My son recently received a brand-new bike for his third birthday. Not a day goes by that he isn’t riding that bike in our driveway, in the cul-de-sac across the street, or even in circles around our living room.
The other day, I was walking beside him as he rode his bike down the sidewalk in our neighborhood. We approached a steep uphill climb, and his little legs began straining at the pedals as he tried to keep his bicycle moving forward.
“Okay, buddy,” I said. “Let’s head back.”
“Why, Daddy?” he protested.
“Because it’s hard,” I said. And then I stopped.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted saying them. Somewhere along my own journey, I had picked up the idea that when things get hard, it’s time to turn back. I quickly altered the verbal course I had begun taking with my son.
“But you can do hard things, can’t you, buddy.” It was more an affirmation than a question.
“Yeah,” he responded. “I can do hard things.”
I gently placed the palm of my hand against his back as he redoubled his efforts to get himself up the hill. I offered encouragement as he dutifully pushed on the pedals. “You’re doing good, son. Keep going.”
Before long we arrived at the top of the hill—a place we affectionately refer to as “the spot.” It just happens to be the most beautiful part of our neighborhood. We looked out over the rooftops to the lake where we often come to watch the sun set. It really is lovely, but we would not have seen its beauty that day if we had turned back.
There’s a unifying theme that permeates the entire Old Testament—the part of the Bible that tells of life before Jesus came to earth. From Genesis through Malachi, we are often reminded that God is faithful. At the same time, we’re given ample evidence that God’s people are not faithful. They lose heart. They fail. They give up. Yet God is so faithful that He continues pursuing them at any cost.
And that’s where Jesus comes in.
One of the themes of the New Testament is that God expects His people to behave differently than they did in the days before Christ arrived. Sure, there will be times when we lose heart. We will certainly fail. But despite our shortcomings, we are commanded time and again not to give up. Consider just a few examples from Scripture:
“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
“Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35–36).
Did you catch that last part? If we endure patiently to the end, we will receive all that He has promised us. And it says that’s a “great reward.” I don’t know everything those words might encompass, but I do know that if God has something good in store for me, I want it. Even if the going gets tough or I find myself straining at the pedals on an uphill climb.
I can do hard things because my Father’s hand is resting gently on my back and His voice speaks tenderly over me, “You’re doing good, son. Keep going.” He is speaking those words over you too. So keep pedaling. Keep pushing. There is quite a view up ahead. You won’t want to miss it.