How refreshing it was to read a couple of weeks ago about the story of swimmer Diana Nyad, who became the first swimmer to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Upon reaching the shore at Smothers Beach in Key West, Florida, the first thing she said was, “One is, we should never give up.”
The 64-year old Nyad previously had tried the swim but it had been cut short amid boat troubles, storms, unfavorable currents and jellyfish stings that had left the swimmer’s face puffy and swollen. After failing four times over the years, Nyad finally succeeded on her fifth and final attempt.
In the Bible (Philippians 3:14), the apostle Paul also shares a message of not giving up when he tells the readers that he will press on to reach the end of the race and attain the heavenly prize that awaits him. Paul pictured himself as a runner striving for the goal, constantly pursuing the end of the course with resolute determination.
He understood that reaching the end was not without its challenges and hardships. For the sake of knowing Christ and sharing the gospel, Paul was beaten, imprisoned, opposed, slandered, shipwrecked without food or water, clothed in rags, under unbearable pressure and endured many sleepless nights. But through it all, the apostle never gave up. He refused to quit because he knew that the reward he most coveted in life, to know Christ fully and completely, could be achieved only beyond this life, at the end of the race.
The good news is that every believer in Christ has been given the ability and desire to persevere like Paul. At salvation, God plants a supernatural love and power in our hearts that will help us through the most difficult of times. No matter what happens in this life, we, like Paul, can move toward the future ultimate goal of ever-releasing, unending fellowship with Jesus.