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We Need to Hear the Crowd

Richard Coekin | June 8, 2021

In April 2019 I stood among huge, jostling crowds lining the Embankment in London amidst a cacophony of noise. I was there to cheer my son along as he ran the London Marathon with a friend to raise support for disadvantaged kids.

It wasn’t the elite athletes who were most impressive— bounding along like speedy gazelles. It was the charity runners—staggering around the 26-mile course from Blackheath to Buckingham Palace for countless great causes, often in ridiculous costumes. It was so humbling to watch their commitment. And moving to hear their supporters bellowing encouragements with all manner of horns and rattles and whistles.

What was motivating the colossal effort of so many thousands of ordinary runners? The finishing line! The satisfaction of completing the course; the triumph of collecting a winner’s medal; the joy of helping some people in need. Unsurprisingly, it’s the support of the crowds that apparently keeps exhausted runners going through the inevitable muscle and joint fatigue, dehydration and “hitting the wall”.

"Like marathon runners, we need the support of our spiritual family and friends as they rally around and cheer us on."

The Marathon of Faith

The London Marathon serves as a metaphor for the Christian life. For, while it’s an incredible privilege to know God through Jesus, Christians get weary, face opposition and feel discouraged. We certainly want the everlasting satisfaction, triumph and joy of the finish line in heaven.

However, the personal disappointment of apparently unanswered prayers, the increasingly fierce opposition of Western “identity politics” or the costly grind of commitment to our local church can suck the joy out of us—and sometimes we just feel like giving up. Like those London Marathon runners, we need the support of our spiritual family and friends as they rally around and cheer us on.

The Great ‘Crowd’ of Christians

There’s one spectacular chapter in the Bible through which our Father in heaven does this more wonderfully than any other. It’s the famous Hebrews chapter 11— often described as the Bible’s “Hall of Fame”.

This amazing portion of Scripture offers powerful encouragements for weary, beleaguered and discouraged Christians. It’s like that crowd lining the London Embankment: characters from Bible history, many generations of our spiritual family, who have all completed the course themselves, cheering us on.

Faith for Life

Faith for Life

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Inspiration from the book of Hebrews on how to live by faith in Jesus.

They manage our expectations with refreshing honesty in a world of lies and spin. They remind us of the glory and blessing that await us at the finishing line in the kindness of God and the happiness of heaven. They inspire us to keep living by faith in the gospel—to endure through the exhaustion, opposition and discouragement that we will all face at some time. They really can encourage us to keep going.

My new book Faith For Life is the distillation of many years of teaching this extraordinary chapter to ordinary Christian believers in need of refreshment. It could be ideal for private devotional reading—or perhaps as holiday reading. It could be a timely gift for a discouraged Christian friend, or as background reading to a series of small-group studies in Hebrews 11.

My prayer is that God will graciously use it to encourage and empower you to keep running—living by faith in the promises of God and empowered by faith—for life.

This article is adapted from the introduction to Faith For Life by Richard Coekin, which offers inspiration from the book of Hebrews on how to live by faith in Jesus.

Richard Coekin

Richard Coekin is CEO of the London-wide Co-Mission church-planting network and Senior Pastor of Dundonald Church, one of Co-Mission's churches in South West London. A renowned Bible teacher and the author of several books including Our Father and Ephesians For You, Richard is married to Sian and they have five children.

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