woman distance runner


“Most people lose it on Heartbreak Hill.”

My youngest daughter runs. She runs distance and marathons. She is a fast little thing yet strong like steel. Like steel, she has been forged by fire, managing seizures and meds and the like since the age of four.

She never allows her medical condition to limit her. She believes and knows she is bathed in the grace of God.

Her name is Moriah and she runs like the wind.

You can find Moriah hiking the Colorado mountains, cycling, or training for the next marathon. The mountains provide challenging trails for distance training.

As a mom, I worry. But she finds joy as she runs.

She runs as an overcomer, by the GRACE of GOD.


God’s grace is a hot topic these days. The Western church is moving through a period of great debate on the meaning of grace.

It’s often defined as “undeserved favor” like a routine gift we continually receive. If we are not careful, we can become stagnant in our spiritual growth using this narrow understanding.

God’s grace is so much more. There is a deep and daily form of God’s grace that is transformative.

Grace – Charis – in Strong’s Concordance is defined as:

“The Divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life;
Grace indicates favor on the part of the giver,
and thanks on the part of the receiver.” 1

This grace is alive and active. It exists through relationship between the giver – God – and the receiver – us. Synergistic power radiates from this interaction. GOD’s GRACE changes us. It is reflected in our lives.

When we are powerless and cry out, He gives power and we become strong. When we are sad, He releases joy, and we rise up.


When we need wisdom, when we need provision, when we need stability, it is God’s divine influence on our spirit, mind, and body that brings about a change.

He is not Santa dropping gifts down the chimney. He is releasing His Word, His Spirit, and His presence into our hearts as we cry out to Him.

If life is like a marathon, God’s grace transforms us during the race, so when we reach the finish line, we are not the same runner as we were at the start.


Moriah participated in this year’s Boston Marathon. What an incredible experience. Thirty thousand runners and their friends and families converged on the city of Boston. Runners flew in from all over the world.

The Boston Marathon is one of six elite marathons in the world. The course is 26.2 miles filled with challenges and surprises.


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As I watched the athletes run, I saw so many pictures of God’s grace.

On race day, the runners are released in groups. The first group to start the race are the professional runners. They are the fastest distance runners in the world. They train with professional coaches and are the elite of the sport. Many are Olympians.

As amazing as they were, the next group was more awesome – Athletes with Disabilities.

Some runners had no legs from the knee down and ran on prostheses. Some competed on an adapted cycle, lying flat and pedaling using their arms alone.


What strength and grace they embodied, overcoming seemingly impossible barriers to compete. What an example for all of us of the GRACE to OVERCOME in every circumstance.

Others competed as a team; one with no power to walk, riding in a chair-type cycle and another partner-athlete running and pushing them along the course. Again, a touching picture of GOD’s GRACE. God gives us His power to run the race when our strength is gone.

I saw athletes who were visually impaired running side-by-side with a sighted runner. They kept pace together. The runner who could not see felt the presence of the other runner by holding a ribbon between them. The second runner paced with the visually impaired athlete guiding them along the course with their eyes.

It’s a picture of the grace of the Holy Spirit. God sends Him as a gift to us, to lead us and guide us. We don’t know what is coming in life, but Father God knows and He sends His Spirit to guide us.

The crowd erupted with joy as each runner passed.

There I was, 4-people-deep on the sideline waiting for a 5 second glimpse of Moriah. I cried for joy as I understood the deep  overcoming GRACE of GOD. As we run our race, He guides us, encourages us and carries us through every season, especially the difficult ones, to get to the finish line.


We all have our own course to run and obstacles to overcome. Some people start out with great disadvantages in life. Others start out with many blessings. Good things happen; Bad things happen. Much of the course is mundane.

We run our race, feeling joy and exhilaration, pacing and moving through milestones.

We run through long, dry seasons and sudden, windy storms. Some strenuous seasons seem as though they will never end.

When our race seems insurmountable and weariness sets in, the enemy chatters dark predictions into our thought life. Despair sets in. We lose focus. We lose hope.

It is here, in these dark moments, the Lord sends His great grace to lift us and encourage us to keep going.


1 Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin.
Let us run with endurance the race set before us,
2 focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross,
disregarding its shame;
and He has taken His seat
at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you may not grow weary in your souls
and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3
Tree of Life Version
– Emphasis mine.

His promise is true even in the dark moments. Jesus gives us His Word and the grace to believe that the promise belongs to us. We cannot run the distance without the grace of God.


One infamous section of the Boston Marathon confronts the athlete at mile 20 – HEARTBREAK HILL. Heartbreak Hill is a long steady hill, a half mile long. What makes it worse is there are three steep hills prior to this big kahuna! If you survive the first three, you may feel pretty good about yourself, until you face Heartbreak Hill.

exhausted runner
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Heartbreak is the hill to be conquered. It slows down and saps the stamina of every runner, even the leaders. Many runners stop and give in to pain and walk it.


It’s such a picture of life! We weather relentless heartbreaking seasons that seem to last forever. Troubles, illness, disappointments, depression, broken relationships, you name it, we all encounter Heartbreak Hill at some point in our lives.

I have walked through many a dark season, grappling to stay positive and “shine” for Jesus. But I could feel the undertow of heaviness pulling me under like an alligator submerges his meal. Victory was merely keeping my head above water until I learned to fight that dark thing spiritually.

Looking back, it was a long hill, but the Lord taught me through His Word and His Spirit how to fight back the darkness. Jesus gave me the GRACE to endure.


Eyes focused on Jesus was the only way I made it through. I had to know Him. Know His character.  Believe His thoughts toward me. (Jeremiah 29:10-11) I had to understand He was cheering me on and I could make it.

God is so gentle. He is not brutal, without mercy.

As you move toward the finish line, remember the gentle heart of Jesus toward the suffering:

“ . . .He (Adonai) has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
Isaiah 61:1
Tree of Life Version

A bruised reed He will not break.
A smoldering wick He will not snuff out.
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isaiah 42:3
Tree of Life Version

I kept moving and made it over Heartbreak Hill by God’s grace.

Now I call out to the runners around me, keep going and believe! Our God is with us. His name is Emmanuel!


Heartbreak comes in many forms.

It tests our endurance. We have to move through it like the distance runner on the hill, keeping our eyes on the finish line.

Some runners don’t make it. Some runners collapse. Even the strongest, have to slow down. But in my experience, it is those who ‘hope in the Lord’ who get through life with the least injury.

Jesus renews our strength to be able to take the hill. It is God’s promise to us in Isaiah 40.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
but they who wait for Adonai
will renew their strength.
They will soar up with wings as eagles.
They will run, and not grow weary.
They will walk, and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31
Tree of Life Version
– Emphasis mine.

If you are facing Heartbreak Hill, I want to encourage you, keep your eyes on Jesus. Wait and watch for Him. Call out in your distress. He is with you. Emmanuel. He will strengthen you as you wait on Him! 


After Moriah flew by at the halfway point, our cheering team gathered our stuff, headed to the train,  and found a spot near the finish line. It was amazing!marathon runner

As I waited to see my overcomer, I hooted and hollered for other exhausted runners as they passed us to the finish. We were packed in like sardines, but we didn’t care. The finish line was the most exciting.

I saw one man, smiling as he ran toward the finish, legs bloody from the knees down. He had fallen somewhere along the course and yet found the grace to get up and keep going. I wondered if it was Heartbreak Hill. Another woman staggered, stumbled, and fell. Other runners stopped to help her up. She could barely move forward but she made it. Head up and eyes focused on the finish line.

How many have fought the good fight through trouble or illness, and yet with little strength left, crossed over to the Lord in victory. God’s GRACE. There were many times Father God sent angels – like those other runners – to lift me up when I stumbled and fell from desperation and spiritual fatigue.


My fierce and feisty Moriah, running toward the finish. By the power of God’s grace toward her, she has overcome hurdles and hindrances in her own young life. I shouted and cried, my mother’s heart bursting with joy.

I stood overcome by these overcomers.

the finish line
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We run in this life toward Him, our ultimate gain. And He waits for each of us to cross that line into His presence; no more pain; no more heartbreak. Joy everlasting. Grace.




1 The New Strong’s Expanded Exhausted Concordance of the Bible, Red Letter Edition  James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D., Dictionaries include contributions by John R. Kohlenberger, III.  Copyright 2001 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TNISBN # 0-7852-4539-1 (hc) – ISBN 0-7852-4540-5 (ss), Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Page 270.

The Holy Scriptures. The Tree of Life Version, Copyright 2015 by Baker Books, A Division of Baker Publishing Group. PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids Michigan 49516-6287.  wwwmbakerbooks.com.

The GOODNESS of GOD — Performed by Cece Winans Live

TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS – Performed by Kari Jobe Live

WAYMAKER – Performed by Sinach

FOR EVERY MOUNTAIN performed by Karen Wheaton

I Love the Lord Whitney Houston

Lori Assadi Ramsey

Lori Assadi Ramsey is an author, musician, and kid’s illustrator who loves communicating the love of Jesus through words, music, and pictures. Called to encourage others, she has spent 30 years leading and participating in praise and worship ministry. A founding member of Manna of Life Foundation and the Chicken Coop Children’s Library in Ghana, Lori lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Mr. Ed, and her rescue pup Missi. You can connect with Lori @lightyourlamps, or Auntylulav.com

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