Nehemiah 4:6 “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.”
One and a half miles. You’re halfway through a 5K. Just a little bit past a 5K, you’re halfway through a 10K. At 6.5 you’ve hit the halfway point of a half-marathon. And for those who are determined enough to run a full marathon, 13.1 miles is your halfway mark.
Some runners view the halfway point as major progress. Excitement oozes out through pouring sweat. Reaching this place in any race—no matter what the distance—ushers in mixed thoughts and emotions. Look how far I’ve come! I’m halfway through! The hardest part is over.
But others might see the halfway point with a completely different perspective. I’m only halfway through? I can’t possibly repeat the same distance I’ve just come. I thought I was closer to the finish line. I thought my pace would be quicker than this.
In 2009, Jenny Barringer was favored to win the NCAA cross-country championship race. At first Jenny confidently held the lead. Surely she’d win the coveted first place title. But midway through the race something happened. Jenny’s pace slowed considerably. Runners who trailed her, suddenly whizzed past, leaving Jenny gasping for breath. She dropped to 10th place, then 20th. Struggling to keep up, she later crossed the finish line in 169th place. When questioned after the race as to what happened, Jenny explained, “Halfway into it, I didn’t feel so good. It was sudden. I thought I couldn’t run.” It wasn’t an injury that slowed her down. It was her perception. Discouraging thoughts paralyzed her, leading to utter panic.
In the Old Testament we find the prophet Nehemiah at a crucial turning point. He’d reached the halfway mark in rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. Compelled to undertake this impossible task, the odds were against him. He courageously led the Jewish people for twenty-six straight days in an ultra building project. That’s when their enemies started taunting and threatening them. Halfway through, a choice had to be made. Allow the enemies of criticism and discouragement to halt their efforts? Or keep persevering in spite of how they perceived the remaining work.
In the same way, we too approach halfway points in our lives. We’re midway through a tough project at school or work. Halfway through a challenging phase in our child’s development. Maybe it’s the halfway point of a business venture, ministry dream or a recovery period in our health. Whatever our halfway point is, our perception of it determines the outcome.
Alan Redpath writes, “The halfway stage is the toughest of all. When the initial enthusiasm for something has departed, you are more conscious not so much of what has already been done, but of what is yet to be done; you are increasingly impressed with the magnitude of the unfinished task.”
If we aren’t further along than we expect at our halfway points, we become vulnerable, intimidation gaining on our heels.
So how did Nehemiah proceed? He chose to embrace faith in God instead of allowing discouragement and defeat to take over. He challenged the people with these powerful words: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome.” He chose to help put their mind in the right perspective. He reminded them there was no reason for fear. Greater was he who was in them than he who was in the world. The opposite of discouragement is faith. While discouragement looks for and believes the worst, faith believes God and his promises.
READY? Identify a time in your life where you were at a halfway point. How did you proceed? How did your perception affect the outcome? Are you approaching or standing at a halfway point now? Resolve to embrace truth and faith instead of discouragement and defeat.
GET SET. Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
GO! Lord Jesus, when I find myself at a halfway point, please give me your eyes. May I not give in to discouragement in those moments. Help me embrace your truth and trust you. Give me a heart of faith that will keep me strong for your glory. Amen
Blessings to you!