Several years ago, I signed up to run my first half marathon. Running a half marathon is quite an accomplishment, especially when you are 6’5” and over 200 pounds, but I needed to lose some weight and get into better shape.

So, I started to do some research, talked with some friends that were runners, bought a new pair of shoes, and off I went. The training started pretty light, with short runs the first couple of weeks. The rationale was if you can run one mile, you can run two. And if you can run two, then you can run three — all the way up to 13 miles. I found out that was easier said than done.

Most days, the training was straightforward and benign, but every once in a while, you would have an extreme day. Some days, I would set out to run seven miles and at the end, I felt like I could go for five more. These days were encouraging. But then there were days where I would need to run a mere five miles, and I would have to stop at mile three because I was so tired. It was crazy. Every day seemed like a mystery on how the run was going to go. On the difficult days, it was very discouraging, and I would consider just giving up. The good days were nice, but the bad days were devastating. The most challenging element of a long-distance race is the mental battles in your head. You have to have the right mindset. If you think about the past or the pain, you will not finish. Real quickly I learned to look ahead.

In the midst of the race, there were three things that I was looking forward to:

  1. the water stations
  2. the finish line
  3. the medic tent after the race

Running 13.1 miles is a challenge, but what kept me going was to look forward to those three places. I think this is the same in our spiritual journey. Times and seasons can be challenging, but we have to look forward to the promises of God. If we look back or we look to the present, it can be quite discouraging, but if we look forward to the future, we can be encouraged. Here are some of my favorite promises of God:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:9

Everyone born of God overcomes the world.
— 1 John 5:4

God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, he’ll always provide a way out.
— 1 Corinthians 10:13

Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.
— 1 John 4:4

in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6–7

My God will supply every need of yours.
— Philippians 4:19

Our present sufferings aren’t worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.
— Romans 8:18

So let me encourage you today. The promises of God are true, and they are waiting for you.