Wannabe Runner

Posted on November 11, 2020
“Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see! Is there any pain like mine, which was dealt out to me, which the Lord made me suffer on the day of his burning anger?” Lamentations 1:12, CSB

I am a wannabe runner, and I have been for roughly the last twenty years.

I am not built like a runner and was never particularly athletic growing up. In high school, I was a newspaper editor and played flute in the marching band. It is fair to say, I avoided most sports.

But when we were young, newly married, and too cheap to pay for a YMCA membership, I started running because it was free exercise. Running makes me feel strong and accomplished. It clears my head.

But I have an unfortunate pattern with my running. Just about the time I’m feeling really good, the scale is tipping down, my times are shorter and my runs are longer– my body lets me down. Usually it is my feet which are plagued with plantar fasciitis. But I’ve had shin splints, a popped ACL, a torn calf muscle and other issues over the last two decades. Discouragement creeps in.

How do you handle discouragement?

I wish I could tell you I fall to my knees in prayer and thanksgiving, but that has not been my pattern. Typically I have a pity party, followed by a healthy dose of excuses, finished up with complaints to those around me.

While my coping strategies aren’t ones to be emulated, I still want to say this– feeling discouraged doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Christian.

The book of Lamentations may have been written after Babylon sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground– but thousands of years later, calling out to God in our distress still rings true. Somewhere along the way, verses meant to encourage us (I’m looking at you 1 Thessalonians 5:18) have instead been used to evoke guilt trips if we don’t maintain a Pollyanna view of life.

If you are feeling discouraged– in your ministry, your personal relationships, your health– cry out to God. He is big enough to handle our frustrations. Spend a day reading through the Psalms, where you will find every emotion known to man. Sit in Lamentations with her bitter tears, days of affliction, and mourning. Do a Google search for “scriptures to encourage.” Reach out to a trusted friend and ask for specific prayers.

And then, once you’ve read, prayed, and cried out, I encourage you to find one other person you can encourage. I know this might sound counterintuitive, but a 2017 study in Psychology Today found that helping and encouraging others had a significant positive impact on people who were suffering from depression and anxiety.

Send a text. Mail a card. Who do you know who needs a boost today?

Lord, Sometimes life feels hard. We feel discouraged. We need to feel your presence and your comfort. Hear our cry, oh Lord. Amen.