From a great verse of Scripture located at Jeremiah 12:5, God asked Jeremiah a pointed question, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with the horses?”
The reason for the question was in response to Jeremiah’s concern how his prophetic stamina had waned. He had been trying very hard to serve the Lord effectively in calling the nation Israel to a position of repentance. But, he eventually realized how wearied he had become with the rigor of the ministerial task to quickly spur Israel to proper spiritual circumstances before the fast-approaching judgment of God befell them.
According to God, Jeremiah’s spiritual role to that point had involved him, in comparative terms, as though he had been running with the foot soldiers of an army moving hastily to attain a certain military position before the enemy arrived.
Jeremiah’s ministerial service had been during times of relative peace for Israel, the Lord pointed out. However, the pace and intensity were going to quicken. Worse times were on the way. The national descent to judgment was going to pick up speed. If he did not have the needed stamina then, how would he expect to have any stamina to keep up with matters when the horses of judgment would start to run? Would he give up the chase? Or, would he just quit his calling?
Such a question from the Lord echoes from the days of Jeremiah to our days of the contemporary church. How many will forsake the rigor of living the Christian life (and, honestly, living the Christian life is rigorous) and faithfully serving the Lord?
One thing that holds true for the Christian life is that it is difficult to maintain a consistent growing faithfulness. For example, when people first receive Christ as the Lord and Savior of their lives, they often run very fast and sometimes long on the strength of the joy that comes from the wonderful experience. As long as there is spiritual ease of results, many are glad to see themselves running well with the pace of the footmen.
But, as it is so often seen, when the difficult circumstances of life begin to confront them, or the spiritual warfare becomes more intense and rigorous, or the yoke of the Christian calling seems to get real heavy, the quality of their initial spiritual stamina, once exciting and expectant, gives out, and they eventually fall out of the church ranks. The spiritual “race,” as described by the writer of Hebrews, becomes an endeavor stopped by the lack of necessary stamina. Many Christian quitters are named on church roles everywhere.
That is why Christ’s personal path to the Cross is so compelling. For, he maintained the necessary spiritual stamina to complete His redemptive mission. It is reasonable to state that He carried the Cross from the moment of His Incarnation to the final moment of His Crucifixion.
His spiritual stamina never waned despite any of the rigorous moments of His ministry. Despite the spite of people or satanic hindrance, He stayed the course maintaining at all times the necessary spiritual staminal. When it comes to living the Christian life with stamina, Christ is certainly the Man by whom we may be inspired. He once stated, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome.” Because He overcame, we can, too.
Personally, there have been times that I needed to catch my spiritual breath. We all do at times. But, when we do, it should be done purposely. It should be done in ways that refreshes the quality of spiritual stamina. After all, the Christian life is truly not a sprint — it is a marathon that continually requires us to be able to “run with the horses” while enduring the most difficult of circumstances.
That is why spiritual stamina is a relevant concern.
“And let us not be weary in well doing. For, in due season, we shall reap if we faint not.”
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.