We can find inspiration from the life of John Stephen Akhwari, as told in Bud Greenspan’s book 100 Greatest Moments in Olympic History.
When the winner crossed the finish line in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic marathon, the officials and spectators thought that had been the highlight of the race. Then, an hour later, John Stephen Akhwari, a runner from Tanzania, entered the stadium. Bloodied and bandaged from a fall, and with a dislocated knee, he limped painfully.
As Akhwari made his way around the track in the setting sun, the remaining crowd began to cheer loudly. When he crossed the finish line, you would have thought by the roar of the crowd that Akhwari had been the victor.
Later, when asked why he had not dropped out, Akhwari replied, “I don’t think you understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”
When you’re bruised and bloodied by life, press on; your Creator did not send you here to start the race, but to finish it! “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”1
Dr. A. B. Meldrum put it this way: “Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend on the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.” Or in other words, “fight the good fight of faith!”2 The Scottish minister and hymnist George Matheson was someone else who didn’t quit, despite the onset of blindness. His advice: “We conquer—not in any brilliant fashion—we conquer by continuing.”
Keep going, no matter what the cost. Keep fighting, no matter what bruises you get. Keep running, no matter how many times you stumble and fall. Your cuts and bruises and scrapes and scars are medals of honor in God’s sight, signs that you had the faith, courage, determination, and commitment to keep going even when it was tough! You may have fallen, but you refused to quit.
At the end of the race, you’ll be able to say, like the apostle Paul: “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”3