I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
John Stephen Akhwari was a Tanzanian long distance runner who, most famously, competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. Unfortunately for him his moment of fame was nor for winning a gold medal in his chosen event, the marathon, but for finishing in last place. During the race he got jostled, fell to the ground and badly injured his knee. Despite this setback, however, he did not give up. He got back to his feet and limped his way to the finish line, finishing over an hour behind the race winner. When asked about his extraordinary feat and why he had continued to run he simply said, "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."
His words are similar to what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to a church in Philippi. At the time Paul is writing the letter he is in prison and in serious trouble. Like Akhwari he may have felt like giving up and turning his back on his mission, which was to tell people about Jesus. But he doesn't. Instead he says that he is carrying on, no matter what set backs he faces, to 'finish the race' and to receive his prize.
Despite the circumstances John Stephen Akhwari and Paul found themselves in, which is certainly not what they had planned, their enthusiasm to finish their respective races was not taken away. They pressed on and their actions made the world stop and take notice. Akhwari was awarded a medal by his government and became famous for his heroic efforts while Paul helped spread the message of Jesus throughout the world.
Sometimes it can feel as if circumstances are against us. We may feel like giving up, whether it be in sport or in many other things that we do. Sometimes we may even feel like giving up on God. Always remember that even if we feel that way God does not give up on us. He doesn't just love us when things are going well - He loves us all of the time, even when things are going badly. His enthusiasm for us never diminishes!