• Hughson T. Ong

Faith and Running: Painful Journey, Joyful Finish

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

I began running in 2007. I started with 200-meter laps and gradually increased to running between 3 and 3.5 kilometers. Now, I run between 10 and 12 kilometers twice or thrice a week in about 60 to 75 minutes. Not exceptional, but not bad either.

Honestly, I don’t like running. I run because it’s the only intense physical exercise I can do conveniently. It’s less time-consuming; you don your running shoes and off you go. It’s also less costly—running shoes usually last me 8 to 12 months before I need a new pair.

But most importantly, I run to maintain my mental and emotional, and even spiritual, health.

When I’m running, I often think about my faith and Christian calling—it’s the one thing that always comes to mind. My mind instinctively compares the pain and exhaustion I feel with my faith journey. I also often compare it with accomplishing a project I’m working on. Isn’t that amazing?

So I use running as an opportunity to pray and talk to God. I sometimes even prayed from start to finish. These are times I feel down and discouraged from life’s challenges. Communing with God keeps my mental and emotional health in good shape, and it also helps alleviate the pain of running (I don’t listen to running music).

Running is painful.

You almost always want to stop when you reach the 30- to 40-minute mark, when your heart rate reaches 175 to 185 bpm, and when your feet and leg muscles and knee and hip joints start to hurt—I’m definitely not getting younger! It is painful because you run on hard pavement, and you can’t avoid running against the headwind and running uphill—these are obstacles you need to overcome to reach the finish line.

But you rejoice physically, mentally, and emotionally upon reaching the finish line.

Our faith journey is similar to running. It is painful because you’re journeying along with life’s challenges and troubles, difficult because you’re facing opposition from unsupportive people, and wearying because of the daily process of maturing into the person God wants you to be. As a result, you want to give up, compromise, and quit.

But as Christ followers, never throw in the towel!

Paul enjoins us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1), and to “run is such a way as to get the prize…not running aimlessly” (1 Cor. 9:26), so that we may confidently say on that final day before God that “we have fought the good fight, we have finished the race, and we have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).