I’ve run a few marathons in my life. The most brutal was the Seattle Marathon in 2003. It’s always the weekend after Thanksgiving, and having a full gut doesn’t make the running easier or make the weather warmer. The course covers 26.2 miles, and I’m sure at least 40 of them are uphill. Marathons are a metaphor for good reason.
The author of Hebrews exhorted his readers to such a long distance faith-run.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1)
The “witnesses” include a bunch of waiters in Hebrews 11, those who “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar” (Hebrews 11:12). They finished their race, they kept the faith, we have their example. We also have Jesus’ example.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
“Consider him…so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (12:3). This is not getting someone to pat your hair, this is getting someone to wipe the sweat out of your eyes so you can keep running.
In most marathons these days they have water stations and even food stations spread throughout the route. It’s not only a long distance, but slower runners like myself could be out there for multiple hours, and the edible energy helps. In our long faith-fun, we also get bread and wine, and the opportunity to “consider Him” who endured hostility so that we can enjoy hope.