Yesterday we saw images of last year’s Boston marathon bombing. Next Monday we’ll be praying for the safety of the runners and supporters at the 2014 Boston marathon. Two years ago I fulfilled a lifelong dream by qualifying for and completing the Boston Marathon, cheered on by Kristi. So you can see why we’d have a special bond with the runners and their families and friends there supporting them.

I qualified to run the marathon again this year and was excited to relive the dream and to run my 10th marathon. It seemed it’d be especially meaningful to do it this year as a show of support for everyone who was wounded or distressed at last year’s race. But I developed a compressed disc with associated back pain and I needed to bow out. I’m doing some exercises to rehabilitate my breaking down body, but not sure I’ll be ever able to run long distances again, which of course has been sad for me.

But When I Run I Feel God’s Pleasure!

Remember the Chariots of Fire movie, where Eric Liddel is running for Olympic gold and he says, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure!” That’s been me! When I run I meditate on Scripture passages and pray. I enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, being in solitude, and feeling free and young. But at least for now (the last six months) I’ve had to give that up, except for some short runs now and again.

Of course, this is sad for me. It makes feel for many people, perhaps you, who live with chronic pain in their body or emotions. Many of you suffer from much worse physical pain, grief, or disappointment then I’m dealing with — I feel for you and pray that you experience God’s healing, comfort, and spirit-lifting encouragement.

Going to the Altar of the Lord

As for my loss, I’ve decided to offer it to the Lord at the altar as a love gift. When I see someone running and feel tempted to complain instead I can thank God for his love for me and pray for him to bless the runner I’m watching. (I also talk about my sad feelings with friends and with the Lord in prayer to seek the empathy I need.) There’s a little prayer I’ve used that helps me: “Your love, O Lord, is better than running.” (This is inspired by Psalm 63:3 when David says to God: “Your love is better than life.”)

How might you fill in the blank in this prayer? What pain or disappointment are you dealing with? “Your love, O Lord, is better than…” The healing I’m waiting for… My marriage being how I wish it to be… My son or daughter getting on track… Seeing my work or ministry succeed…

I’m continuing to rehabilitate my back and pray for healing and I’m still hoping that I’ll be able to resume running. I encourage you to take the same attitude with what you’re waiting on God for. God is good and generous and he wants to bless you! Do all you can to improve your situation and pray for your hopes to be fulfilled.

And, most importantly, I encourage you to go to the altar of the Lord with me. Let’s take heart from the Psalmist, who in the mist of his painful situation prayed, “O Lord, you are my joy and my delight!” (Psalm 43:4, par)

Yes, Lord God, You are our true joy and delight, even if you don’t answer our prayer how we want and our difficult circumstances don’t change. We think of your sacrifice of love on the cross for us Jesus and we are strengthened by your grace and love for us and we want to love freely as you do. Amen.

My best Boston Marathon is the one I’m not running, but rejoicing in the Lord anyways. So also you’re best gift to God may be worshiping him despite your pain.

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