North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

The world is spinning round and round and tragic events like the recent bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon makes us want to shout: “Stop the world! I want to get off!” Whether expressed or not, that exclamation may well represent the longing of many a frightened, confused, “world dweller”. Who would deny the existence of massive problems —individually, nationally, and internationally? Is there any hope of an end to all that besets us? Can we ever experience a life free from the fear of terrorism? Evil and madness will never be completely eradicated; it’s here to stay. God tells us, “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). But the Bible also says, “The person who does not give up when the tests come is happy. After the test is over, they will receive the crown of life. God has promised this to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

The events that took place in Boston this week were horrific and terrifying. What was to be a hallowed day in the running world and a celebration of achievement, turned into chaos and mourning. I’ve finished five (5) Boston Marathons and there were times during those races I wanted to quit. Life, like competing in marathons, hurts and at times can be overwhelming. Consider the challenges placed on the body and mind, when you start to hurt and hardship ensues. Subconsciously your body tells you to quit and sit down; drink some water, Gatorade, Coca Cola, or some other preferred beverage.

Tragic events in the world and in our lives are enough to make us want to crawl up into our own little corner and stay there. But for just a moment, consider the resolve factor inside of you. Do you have what it takes to keep going? Where will the strength come from to mount a concerted effort against pain, sorrow, and hardship? Sometimes you’ve got to learn how to keep on keeping on. This is one of the basic skills of living: knowing how to persevere, how to keep at it, how to keep running. God has engineered the circumstances of my life so that I have reaped the benefit of encouraging people. One such person was my middle school algebra teacher Mr. Brown. At the end of my eighth grade school year, when school yearbooks were being passed around, he scribbled a quote in mine. The next year I would enter high school as a lowly freshman. It was to be a new and challenging chapter in my life and he knew this. So, he wrote: “Matthew, never give up…Keep on Running!” I’ve held to that encouraging thought as I’ve faced my own battles in life.

The Boston Athletic Association has announced the marathon will continue in 2014. That means next year the marathon runners will once again toe the line and take to the streets to accept the ultimate challenge as they have for over 116 years. Isn’t this the greatest measure of a human being…not how you handle yourself when things are going well and safe, but how to handle yourself when things are going badly or when fear of the unknown creeps in, or when you’re tempted to quit. Be strong and courageous in the face of life’s realities (Deut. 31:6). We must be ready when the unexpected happens. The attitude a person has in defeat and difficulty is a great issue in life, because it’s this thing that determines whether one is able to overcome fear, hardship, and be victorious. Defeat can certainly be called a “possibility” because of unknown factors, but defeat should never be called an “option” for the man or woman who wants to win at life.

The person who has placed at the center of his or her thinking the wonderful affirmation, “I can do all things through Christ” can recover from any defeat and handle any situation. We must choose how we will resolve to overcome the chaos and madness of our day. We mustn’t cower in the face of terror, yet we must use the good sense and strength of character given to us by the Divine Provider. We may not be able to control world events or the mad behavior of someone else. But, resolve yourself to “Keep on Running” in your own way by doing these things: 1) See the world as God intended it. There is still beauty and achievement in living. There is a wholesome purpose for your life. Seek out all that is good in others and give the best of yourself. 2) Stop putting yourself down because of mistakes. You have good inside; learn to share it and cleanse your mind of your failings. 3) Practice the trait of determination and will power. Almighty God has put a tough thing into human beings called “will”; use it for good and goal attainment. 4) Think of others more than you think of yourself. The encouragement and good thoughts you have of others will increase your own self-determination because you know inside; you have helped make a difference in someone’s life. 5) Set goals for yourself no matter your age. Think of things and challenges you would realistically like to accomplish. 6) Don’t wallow in self-pity. Think of what you have left and what you can do to make circumstances better. 7) Above all, commit your life to Jesus and then, everyday you can say with confidence “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

The world is a dangerous place. And Jesus Christ himself is the final solution for every troubled heart and problem-ridden nation. When he comes back he will bring the peace men rack their brains to find in this world. So, get ready (Matt. 24:42-44) and turn to the last page of your Bible and read the twentieth (20th) verse: “Yes, I am coming soon…” On Patriot’s Day April 15, 2013 we were all marathon runners, at least in our hearts. And from now on we will all toe the line in the race of life, we will not back down, and we will never give up. “Keep On Running…America”.

  •       This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at


Posted by on Apr 21 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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