Choosing to Fight

Rev. Dr. Michael S. Barry, Director of Pastoral Care, CTCA/Eastern Regional Medical Center

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-14

Dear friend: 

I have arthritis in my right knee. It's probably due to high school athletics and a number of years running in 10K races and a few marathons. Several years ago, an orthopedic surgeon told me I'd never run again. Further, he said the next stop for me would be knee replacement when I'm around 65. So, I gave up running -- for a few years at least.

Then I read about a doctor who utilized his faith in Jesus Christ to help him battle his own arthritis. I thought, Can arthritis be more devastating than cancer? How can I encourage people with cancer to fight against their chronic disease if I so easily give up on my own? So I began running again. After a two-year layoff, I'm back, huffing, puffing and faithfully determined not to let my infirmity get me down.

My two-and-a-half-mile route has hills and valleys, ups and downs. Two-thirds of the way through today, I almost gave up. I almost quit. I didn't see this attitude coming. I didn't begin my morning run with the thought of quitting, but there I was.

But it was only for a split second. I immediately replaced the thought of quitting with another thought: I choose not to quit. And then I began again, up the hill. A feeling of accomplishment came to me, along with thoughts of you.

I know there are times when you want to quit too, when fighting your disease doesn't seem worth the pain, when the hills you face bring random thoughts of giving up. Choose to fight. Decide not to let your disease control you. Keep running. If you fall behind, I'll wait for you. If I fall behind, wait for me.

Lord, we don't start our days with thoughts of quitting. Sometimes they come out of nowhere. Grant that Your presence within my friend will encourage him to run the good race today and every day. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Reprinted by permission of the author from his book A Season of Hope and through the courtesy of the publisher, Cook Communication Ministries.

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