For me, the most amazing part of the Comrades marathon is the number of supporters lining the roads to encourage the runners. Each runner’s first name is visible on their chest where the race number is pinned. Highways around Durban and Pietermaritzburg get closed off for the day to accommodate supporters cheering runners on. Who can stop when others carry you along by shouting your name? But at some point it becomes silent, it becomes an exclusive battle between the runner and the road.

Some areas of the Comrades are too remote to access from the highway, leaving parts of the race unattended by supporters. The end is not in sight as runners face hill after hill. All they hear is their own breathing and their feet on the gravel road. And that is where true endurance gets tested. Once again, the Israelites were familiar with the feeling.

While Moses was there to encourage his flock, the Israelites managed to endure the ups and downs of their journey. Even if they hung on to a thread, they put one foot in front of the other. But when all went silent, it became too much. “When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. ‘Come on,’ they said, ‘make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses who brought us here from the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 32:1, NLT). Again, Jesus was not indifferent to human weaknesses.

In Luke 12, Jesus speaks about endurance in the silent zone. He uses the example of a servant whose boss is away for a while. There is no one to check up on him or to speak encouraging words of approval. It is just him and the job. “‘But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful’” (v. 45-46, NLT). Silence can be a sneaky endurance killer.

Do you find yourself in a silent zone of your endurance journey at the moment? Does it feel like it would make no difference if you gave up for a little while?

Let us keep up our pace when life demands silent endurance. Let us remember that God is always with us, He never leaves the side of the road. And let our endurance grow as we near our Heavenly rewards. “So 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, NLT).

Scripture readings:

Exodus 32:1-5

Luke 12:42-48

Galatians 6:7-10