Summary: Here's a sermon especially appropriate as the Olympic games come to a close. However, it can be used any time to address faithfulness in our Christian walk.

FAITHFUL TO THE FINISH

PSALM 38:1-22

1 A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.

O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,

Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!

2For Your arrows pierce me deeply,

And Your hand presses me down.

3There is no soundness in my flesh

Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones

Because of my sin.

4For my iniquities have gone over my head;

Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

5My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness.

6I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;

I go mourning all the day long.

7For my loins are full of inflammation,

And there is no soundness in my flesh.

8I am feeble and severely broken;

I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

9Lord, all my desire is before You;

And my sighing is not hidden from You.

10My heart pants, my strength fails me;

As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,

And my relatives stand afar off.

12Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;

Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,

And plan deception all the day long.

13But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;

And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.

14Thus I am like a man who does not hear,

And in whose mouth is no response.

15For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.

16For I said, "Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,

Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me."

17For I am ready to fall,

And my sorrow is continually before me.

18For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.

19But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;

And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.

20Those also who render evil for good,

They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

21Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me!

22Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England...

will come to a close today!

In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Derek Redmond of Great Britain was considered a favorite contender for a medal. It was August 3, 1992 as Redmond was pitted against seven others in a semi-final in the 400 meters. Redmond knelt poised, waiting for the race to start. As the gun went off, his body was translated into a human locomotion, feverishly charging against the other runners.

As Redmond prepared to round the curve after the halfway mark, however, he suddenly heard a pop. It was his right hamstring. Redmond soon found himself trapped by the searing pain in his leg. The other runners passed Derek as he desperately continued his painful trek to the finish line. He ran with difficulty for a few steps and then began to stumble. His father, watching from the stands, became keenly alert to his son's difficulty.

As you and I run the race of life,

sometimes we grow weak and we struggle.

We, too, often stumble badly.

Our difficulties do not escape the attention of our Savior.

Point #1. JESUS KNOWS WHEN WE ARE WEAK AND STRUGGLING.

6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

7 For my loins are full of inflammation,

And there is no soundness in my flesh.

8 I am feeble and severely broken;

I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You

Sometimes people ask, "How are you?"

And we respond, "Just fine!"

But truthfully there are times when we are struggling.

We don't want their pity, or curiosity, or disrespect.

We want others to think we are in control.

We wear a mask of courage.

We try to fool others around us and protect our image.

But our struggles are not hidden from Jesus!

Jesus says in Matthew 10:30

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

So Jesus doesn't miss it when we grow weak and weary.

Psalmist 121:4 says, "behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

Jesus sees! Jesus knows, and Jesus cares.

You may be weighted down with debt and financial pressures.

Jesus knows all about that!

He has promised to meet all your needs.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-33

Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

You may be struggling with a sense of failure and frustration.

Jesus is aware of it and cares.

You may be struggling with temptation to sin.

Jesus sees it.

Maybe you are at odds with a parent, or a brother or sister,

or one of your children, or a friend.

You want to reconcile, but you are having a difficult time.

Jesus recognizes your weakness.

You may be weak spiritually right now.

You just can't seem to pray with power.

You read the Bible and forget it as soon as you close it.

You have to force yourself to come to church.

Jesus sees the problem, and cares.

Jesus speaks to us as He did to the disciples in Gethsemane,

"Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

If you're struggling, Jesus invites you to come to Him for rest. S

So, Jesus loves us even when we are weak, amen!

Derek was struggling, and his father was watching from the stands. The pain in Derek's leg was the result of a torn right hamstring. He tried to run, but stumbled and fell face first onto the track and winced in agony. As help was approaching, Derek fought to his feet and began hopping toward the finish line in a desperate effort to finish the race. But he had fallen, and was now far behind. Suddenly, his father came out of the stands, brushed aside the security guard and ran to Derek. Putting his arms around his injured son, he helped him stay on his feet.

In our weakness, we often stumble;

but in that very moment, Jesus is there to help.

Point #2. JESUS LIFTS US WHEN WE HAVE FALLEN.

17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me.

18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.

Sometimes we suffer the weakness of the flesh.

We disobey God's word.

We fall into sin.

But listen to Psalm 37:23-24: "the steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the one who holds his hand."

I've watched my son and my grandchildren...

as struggle to learn to walk.

I've watched them fall.

They'd take a teetering step or two and then topple over,

but I'd be there to take them by the hand.

Later, when Jeremy was learning to ride a bicycle,

He would take a spill or two.

That's part of the learning procedure.

But when they fell, I was there to pick them up.

I didn't scold them!

I didn't disown them when they fell.

Neither does Jesus!

When that inevitable fall comes,

Jesus is there to lift us and to encourage us and to help us.

So, Jesus loves us even when we fall, amen!

Derek's father came to his side and spoke kindly. "You don't have to do this," he told his weeping son. "Yes, I do," Derek said, through clenched teeth. "Then," said his father, "we're going to finish this together." And the two of them pressed on; sometimes Derek's head was buried in his father's shoulder, but they stayed in his lane all the way to the finish line.

When you are overwhelmed by the hard happenings of life,

you will never face them alone.

You have Jesus by your side.

Point #3. JESUS IS WITH US SO WE DON'T HAVE TO STRUGGLE ALONE.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

Earthly friends may fail and hurt us,

but Jesus will never leave us.

God has given us unfailing promise:

Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Jesus promised his disciples: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18.

Jesus will carry us to the finish, amen!

As Derek and his father crossed the finish line, the crowd rose and cheered and wept. He didn't win a gold medal at Barcelona, but he walked away with the incredible memory of a father who came to him in his need and helped him finish the race.

CLOSING:

That's what Jesus does for us when we place our trust in Him.

When we are experiencing pain

and we're struggling to finish the race,

we can be confident that we have a loving Savior.

He won't let us do it alone.

He left His place in heaven to come alongside us.

Jesus says to His followers "I am with you always to the very end of the age."