Picture it: The year is 1983 and it’s the day of Australia’s Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon, one of the longest races in the world, a distance of 544 miles. The race is so grueling, only a handful of runners ever complete the race. As everyone lines up at the starting line, up walks a sixty-one-year old farmer, named Cliff Young, in his overalls and work boots. As you can imagine, the press and other athletes questioned Cliff. Some even told him he was crazy for even attempting to race. Yet Cliff replied, "Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn't afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I'd have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I'd always catch them. I believe I can run this race."
Eventually, the race started, and the other runners quickly left Cliff behind. The crowd and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn't even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer's safety. Yet despite the hopelessness of the situation, Cliff continued to run. He ran all day and all night. Unknowingly to Cliff, the runners were given six hours of sleep every night, but because he didn’t know this, Cliff ran the entire night without stopping to sleep. By the next morning, Cliff was in the lead, and he maintained his lead for the remainder of the race. It took him five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes, but Cliff Young won the race and he did so almost two days faster than the previous record for any run between Sydney and Melbourne.
Every time I hear Cliff’s story, I’m inspired. Everything about his situation was hopeless. He didn’t train to run a marathon. He didn’t have the right clothes or shoes to run a race. He didn’t even know the rules of the race. Yet he was determined to attempt the impossible, and he did it. Cliff Young accomplished something unheard of, all because he refused to give in to hopelessness.
We all face hopeless situations in our lives. Sometimes, we face a challenge like Cliff Young and must choose to keep going. Yet other times, hopelessness is thrust upon us through problems in life, such as sickness, financial problems, and death. But no matter what the circumstances may be, we all face the dilemma of how we will respond to the hopeless situation.
Easter has passed and I can’t help but think about the worst day in history, truly, a hopeless day if there ever was one. I know some people say the worst day in history was the day Jesus died, but personally, I think the worst day in history was the day after Jesus died. Before Christ’s death, people had hope God would do something miraculous, that He would intervene and save Jesus from that humiliating death on the cross. But He didn’t. From the moment Jesus died and was placed in the tomb, everything changed. Everything Christ’s followers had believed in, hoped in, and worked for was gone, and they had no reason to believe anything would change.
Whatever you’re going through today, I want to encourage you to not give up on God. It might be your worst day, but God is still there and He IS working. He hasn’t forgotten or abandoned you. God loves you, and just maybe, following your worst day, He’s going to do something amazing. Circumstances can change. Hope can be reborn. Victory can come out of death.
There is always hope! The hands which gently hold and comfort you when you’re hurting, broken, and bruised are the same ones that were nailed to an old rugged cross so that you could experience freedom and victory from sin and death. So be encouraged, my friend. Your story isn’t over. The all-powerful God is working in your life, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. He will take your Day of No Hope and turn it into an amazing testimony of His resurrection power.
“Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!” ~ Habakkuk 3:17-19
© April 24, 2014