For many years, mile 17 of the Route 66 Marathon would pass right in front of our home in November. That day was such a highlight for me. Not because I was running but because I got to be a part of the excitement in a small way.

Our family and friends would stand out in the front yard with homemade signs and a speaker playing all the songs we thought would motivate them.
We had many different things written on the posters over the years, but there was one phrase I found myself saying repeatedly to the many men and women struggling to keep going.
Just a little bit longer!

Although I knew they still had a good 10 miles to go, they had come so far in the grand scheme of things.
They were more than halfway there.
And if they could shift their mindset to just the next mile, that seemed more doable.

This past week, I was at a conference in Las Vegas and reconnected with a dear friend whose life echoed this very sentiment. When I asked what the highlight of his year had been so far, he shared the story of his son, who had been battling alcoholism.
It had been a long, arduous journey.
Similar to an endless marathon with no finish line in sight.
My friend and his wife spent countless days and nights in prayer, not knowing where or when their mile 26 would come.
But this year, he said, something miraculous happened.
His son turned his life around.

When I asked about how they endured the darkest times, my friend simply said,
We just believed a little longer.
We prayed a little longer.
We hoped a little longer.

To those of you in the depths of your own mile 17,
feeling the weight of your struggles,
your mind might tell you that you cannot endure another step.
And that it is not possible to push ahead to mile 18.
But do NOT give up.
Your mile 26 is closer than you think.

And like my dear friend whom I connected with this week, there may be some of you facing despair regarding one of your children and their situation.
It’s important to remember a fundamental truth.
They were God’s children before they were ever yours.
His love and care for them surpass any understanding.
This realization is not a relinquishment of your responsibility.
But it is an invitation to trust in someone who loves them far greater than you ever could.

Over the last 50 years, I have had many moments at mile 17.
The mile where you get really weary and the finish line seems light years away.
In fact, I’m certain we all have had our own marathons in one way or another.

Yet, if you recall your last 26.2 mile journey, God’s grace carried you through.
It did then, and it will now.
For today.
For your next mile.
And then the next.

So, when your heart feels heavy, and you tell yourself you simply don’t know how you are going to walk, much less run, through this particular marathon, just remember,
Believe just a little longer.
Hope just a little longer.
And by all means, do the thing that can move mountains…Pray.
Just a little longer.