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setbacks and comebacks

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

I had wanted to complete a marathon. I had a setback and could not.

I trained for a long time to run the famous Brooklyn Marathon on November 15. But on September 26 during my long training run, I injured some tiny connective tissue in my right knee. I rested a week and then ran my longest run of the training, 20 miles, my longest run ever since ten years ago when I had completed the Chicago Marathon. Somehow, I was able to complete this 20 mile training run even though my knee was on fire. I depended on my spirit being on fire. You see, I wanted this run so badly to prove to myself that I could run the marathon. If I could endure the pain, I could complete this major goal I felt called to do for our sports4compassion community. After the very long training run, I rested for a little longer than usual and missed some small training runs. No big deal, I thought, since I had done the epic 20 mile run. I then tried to sneak in another two runs even with a still very sharp and constant pain in my right knee. It is hard to know for sure, but after those two runs, I think I completely damaged my knee for the long term. Since October 12, I have not been able to run or even walk for more than a mile without my leg giving out. So my sports for compassion has become a kind of sitting for compassion.

I used to think this pain and setback was just part of the training, just part of taking my body, mind, and spirit beyond what it had done. But now, I honestly feel very disappointed in myself. The setback is all I can see when the surge of pain comes up my knee into the hip and then strikes my heart. When I give this disappointment room in my mind, it takes over and brings me further into a downward spiral of even greater disappointment. Have you been in this downward spiral? I'm there now.

My prayer has been for wisdom and healing. I have prayed that I could somehow run this event for all those cheering for me and supporting our mission.

This year has been a blessing to me and many others because of our new sports4compassion movement. I know our friends at Heart's Home in Brooklyn have received your donations that support them doing their mission to be a presence of God to the forgotten. This year, we have experienced a great generosity of giving that included several half marathons, 5k races, and some epic bike races. For me, the Brooklyn Marathon was going to be my crowning gift and achievement for my year of health for myself and others, especially those most in need.

But this beyond did not go as I wanted.

I have to be honest with you, I am disappointed in myself. I have struggled to except this injury that has prevented me from running for myself and for others. I believed in myself to be running for you. And now I can not run.

But the Lord surprised me as he always does.

In prayer searching for his meaning in this setback, I have came to realize that by his grace, by his abundant grace, my running long races were a grace but also my not being able to run long races were a grace too.

What I have come to learn is that more people relate to my having this major setback than my other accomplishments for this movement. Telling my story of being setback has brought out other people's stories of setbacks. They hear my pain and reveal their pain. We share our sufferings and we search for the meaing within them. We together hear the Lord speaking to us even in this storm because he answers us "in the secret place of thunder" (Psalm 81:7).

Previously I had talked about my call to running a marathon this year as a call to follow Jesus' beyond. And it still is. I did not realize now that this beyond was not going to be 26.2 miles long, but instead the long run of learning even more deeply that it is all about him and always about his compassion for me and you.

My story is not done. Sports for compassion is not done. I will run this marathon for you. I will comeback.

This setback just prepares my comeback.

And so for you too. Whatever setback you have now is only preparing you for your great comeback in Lord Jesus Christ.

Stay tuned and keep supporting.

why christians should run for compassion

Added on by Matthew Sutton.

I believe that Christians should run for compassion because, well, running is so central to the Word of God.

The word "run" (in all its variants) appears at least 149 times in the Bible. From Genesis, where Abraham runs to meet the three angels visiting him (Gen 18:2) to the Letter to the Hebrews when we are encouraged to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1).

We do not run in vain (Gal 2:2; Phil 2:16) or aimlessly (1 Cor 9:26), but we are like Peter and John running to the tomb to see that Jesus is resurrected (John 20:4). We're running toward new life - from isolation to compassion.

In my study of the Bible and running, I'm learning a message that God is teaching us that he runs in compassion toward us.

When the father of the prodigal son sees him coming back, he runs toward him to restore him to his care: "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

Think about that ... the Father's compassion leads him immediately to running toward us who need him most. That's why we run for compassion because that's what the Father does for us.

Please support my running a half marathon tomorrow (April 12 - Divine Mercy Sunday) by visiting and donating at Sports 4 Compassion.