When you run the Mandela Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Howick, you have to tackle the infamous Struggle Hill. It is a very apt name for an extremely tough part of the race. The reality is that if you want to get to the top of Struggle Hill you have to run about 10km’s up to the top, before you can get to enjoy the next part of the race. There can be no glory of eventually crossing the finish line without the blood, sweat and tears of Struggle Hill.

This reminds me so much of the things we have to face in our everyday lives. There is always going to be a ‘Struggle Hill’ on the way to the finish line and the sooner we comprehend this, the better for our sanity. So often we think there is something wrong with our faith, friendships or our family environment when we end up going through tough times. Somehow we have been led to believe (falsely, I must add), that struggles are a sign of failing in our Christian walk, yet nothing could be further from the truth!

If we take a little tour of the Bible we will note that every one of the exemplary Biblical characters goes through periods of intense struggle and trial, before they end up tasting victory in the end. It seems that these moments of climbing up ‘Struggle Hill’ only prove to strengthen their resolve and end up increasing their faith along the way. In fact, conquering the Hill gives us the belief and confidence that we can carry on for the rest of the journey.

Take the following two verses for example. They show us that Jacob and Paul had to undergo their own trials en route to the finish line. Both of these God-followers resolved to keep walking on in faith, believing that God would help them through the difficult times.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28).

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me (Romans 15:30).

Whatever we are undertaking at the moment; whether it be raising children, starting a new relationship, working on a new project or even moving into a different season of marriage, we need to remember this truth – With God’s help we will get through all of our trials and struggles. God will help us to overcome!

Take note of these words of encouragement spoken to Jeremiah by the Lord, “they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you” declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:19).

Jesus reminded his disciples that they would have to brace themselves for trials and tribulations along the way. If they wanted to follow God, then they would need to prepare for all kinds of struggles and hardships. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Let God strengthen you for the race that lies ahead.

May you know the presence of Holy Spirit to guide and encourage you as you place one foot in front of the other.

May you conquer your ‘Struggle Hill’ and know the elation of finishing strong.