Summary: Enduring through the hard times (I used the "Facing your Giants" video illustation for this message and it made a huge impact)

Ever had the wind knocked out of you?

It’s a Scary experience to say the least.

For me; being curled up, grabbing my stomach unable to even move one bit of air, seemed like I was going to certainly die.

My experience was mostly on the wrestling mat or football field in high school, but the experience was always the same.

It hurt, I was afraid to move, and sometimes I was even hesitant afterwards to continue with my activities; to get back into the game.

Now that I am a bit older, I can’t say that I have had the wind knocked out of me from rough play lately.

But, I can however confess I have had my share of the wind being knocked out of my sails so to say, both emotionally and spiritually.

Getting the wind knocked out of you doesn’t necessarily have to be the physical experience of being hit in the diaphragm.

As we go through life, the unexpected and sometimes difficult challenges we face can certainly knock the wind out of our sails.

• Difficult childhood

o Abuse, neglect, divorce, personality

• Death of a loved one

o Loss of close family member

• Troubles in school

o Grammar school through college (grades to finances)

• Rocky relationships

o Not settled

• Slow developing careers

o Purpose in life questioned

• Addictions, Bad habits

o This list can be quit large

I have met a few people that have told me that they have had a wonderful life and they don’t understand how people can be so messed up.

My thought is “What does this person have hidden in their closet?”

Those that are upfront about the issues that they are facing in their lives are already on the path to properly and constructively handling their struggles.

We as Christians; followers and believers in Jesus Christ need to understand that the basic step is to first understand that we cannot do it alone.

So many times when we face difficult points in our life we allow the situation to dictate how we respond.

I can confess that many times when I have been faced with a problem, my mind has begun to run at full throttle trying to figure out, “How am I going to get through this?”

But as I grow in the richness of God’s Word, I have learned that I am not alone in my battles.

Not only has Jesus suffered through it all and redeemed me from my life of sin, God in His great love and mercy not only sent His one and only son to take my place at the Cross, but has through His Word left me so many testimonies of those long before me who have gone through, in some cases much more than I could ever imagine.

Hebrews 12:1

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

The Message

Paul speaks through his letters of the life we live as being the big race.

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

1 Corinthians 9:24 NLT

 So in other words:

• Never say never

• Never say I can’t

• Never say I’m not good enough

• Never give up

 Of course right here is when some would say,

“Preacher, that’s easy for you to say, you don’t have a clue what I’ve been through”

Sure, I have had a wonderful life full of God’s blessings.

Not many can say they have experienced as much as I have; being a Paramedic, Police Officer, Firefighter, Educator and a variety of other things.

I have had wonderful experiences throughout my life, but I have also had my sorrows and heartbreaks.

• I have lived through alcoholism in my family

• I have endured the pain of my parents divorce

• I have loved, and lost

• I have struggled financially

• I have made bad decisions

• I have lost jobs

I have had a few close friends in my life that have known me for nearly half my life, and they often make the same comment:

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