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It’s not in temptation where sin is found.

It’s in the giving in.

In the cursing, instead of surrendering.

Trusting.

Accepting.

Obeying.

Praising.

We’re all tempted – in varying methods, shapes and colors, tastes and textures,

appealing to us in different ways, depending on our weaknesses, depending on what we’ve given in to before, what doors we opened to the enemy in the past.

Instead of believers casting stones,

maybe we could take the time to read between the lines.

And if we’ve suffered to such a degree,

maybe we’d feel more compassion, instead of criticizing.

We could offer encouragement,

and reminders of His goodness,

and raise our voices to drown out those of the enemy.

He’s had the mic for too long anyway.

We need to stop listening to our enemy, and take the time to learn more of Jesus.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Job’s wife isn’t heard of except for once. Historic record hints at idolatry. She might not have served the great I AM, and some say she died during his time of trial. Maybe Job married a second wife…

Either way, can we understand a parent’s heart? The pain of heartbreak?

Cursing God isn’t the answer, doesn’t bring a solution or foster any good.

Doing wrong only compounds our problems.

But waiting on God and praying and trusting, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, is why the book of Hebrews refers to it as the sacrifice of praise (13:15).

He is good, and He does only good.

And believing is the key, no matter how many times we stumble.

And for those around us, maybe compassion could be extended in larger quantities, and criticism could be doled out less.

We cheer for those who run a flawless race.

But don’t we also cheer for the runner who falls, and gets up to run again?

Stumbling over his own feet or those of another runner coming from behind…

Maybe he took his eyes off the goal, or ran into other runners who had fallen in front of him.

Our failings aren’t always avoidable.

How we watch in awe at the runner who forfeits the prize to stop and help the fallen one.

And when he gets back up on his feet, and pushes forward, when he keeps running, even while limping, bleeding…

Even in finishing last, but pushing past the pain and finishing, against the odds and beyond our expectations…

How we cheer!

And shame on us if we do less.

When wounded runners make it across the finish line, of course we’re thrilled.

The odds were against them, but they pushed past the struggles and refused to listen to legs screaming in pain, to the enemy’s weasel-y attacks, to whatever else would hold them back and keep them from the prize.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Not many cartwheels or balloons or fireworks in this Christian race. Parades come before, and receptions for offering congratulations will be held later.

For now, we’re in a spiritual battle.

When tempted to criticize those who aren’t happy all the time, consider stepping up to the front lines with them.

We have no idea the burdens they carry, the invisible wounds that cause pain with each step.

The smokescreen of false gods or temporary escape through drugs isn’t the answer. Anything offered by the enemy is guaranteed to be of no help.

Maybe we could reach out and help carry the load.

Or sit in silence, and cry and pray in their times of grief and suffering.

You can’t quit… you’re the one I look up to when I’m discouraged… she was told. Please don’t give up… I need your example, your strength, your faith…

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It’s not the path she chose. Not the life she expected.

Not the challenges she thought she’d ever face.

And like George Bailey, no one knows how many lives our life touches,

or how many people are influenced by us day after day.

Even on the days when we plod along.

(And if we fall, how many will fall after us?

We can’t know. But do we want to take that chance?)

Her story isn’t over.

Nor those of her husband and kids and others she cares about.

Not as long as she doesn’t give up.

Not when she walks away from the edge, and ignores the enemy,

and chooses to walk forward.

To walk in faith.

The power comes in not giving up,

by not giving in, not quitting, not stopping,

not being done with caring and loving and believing.

The victory comes to those who persevere,

to those who press on.

Yeah, there are some bruises.

She might have a few scars that weren’t there in the beginning.

Or she might limp for a while.

(Didn’t Jacob hobble around after wrestling with the angel? Maybe there’s a lesson for us there…)

In God’s kingdom, the prize is awarded for finishing the race.

Not for being first or second, or for what we look like,

not for the name on the back of our shirt, or how large our bank accounts are,

or even for running without stumbling.

(How many can make that claim?)

Because, the only ones who don’t finish are the ones who let themselves fall.

And the only ones who’ve run out of hope are the ones who quit.

If you’re still in the race, Bravo!

If your eyes are still on the finish line, keep looking up!

But if you’ve tripped and fallen hard, get up and try again.

If the heartache is unbearable, and you can hardly move, breathe deep and pray and push past the pain and do right anyway.

If you’ve landed in a hole, pray for someone to come who knows the way out.

Or if you’re standing on the edge of this close to Snapped, cry out for help, and ask God for a friend.

If you’re still breathing, and if you’re willing to back away from the edge, to take the next step forward,

believe, God still has a plan.

And His plans always come with a happy ending.

If not sooner, definitely later.

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