I ran track when I was in high school. I wasn't great at it, and I don't really know why I did it, besides the fact that people said I had the build for it. So I trained and ran some races, but I have to tell you, I couldn't wait to cross the finish line and just get it over with. Good athletes are those who can't wait to cross the finish line because they're giving it all they've got to win the race.

The apostle Peter spoke about approaching the finish line of life in 1 Peter 5: "May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (vv. 10-11).

Notice first of all what Peter was writing about: suffering. Suffering is part of life, but it's also part of God's curriculum to mature us. Pain happens to every person, but purposeful pain happens only to the child of God (see Job 2:9-10; Psalm 119:71; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). He can use the harmful things that come into your life to strengthen and develop you.

Satan wants to persecute you and wear you down through your trials, but the opposite actually happens. The Lord allows suffering in your life and superintends those things not to weaken you, but in order to "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." That's His intention. And ultimately, it brings Him glory. When all the trials of life are over and we're with the Lord, we're going to look back and echo verse 11: "Praise You, Lord! Now I get the whole picture. Everything You did was perfect and right and just. To You be the glory forever."

The truth is that life can hurt. It can hurt a lot. But what Peter did in these verses is raise our horizon. He pointed us beyond the pain of the race we're running, beyond the pain of this life to what comes afterwards: heaven. Honestly, we tend to forget this.

Paul summed it up well in 2 Corinthians 4: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (vv. 16-18).

It's going to get a lot better than this. So live looking forward to what's beyond this life. Live like an athlete, running your race so well that at the end you can look back on the choices you've made with no regrets. Start here, and start now. Don't just finish up, but determine now to finish well.

Skip's signature