Joy Johnson completed her 25th run in the New York City Marathon. In recent years she has annually been the oldest woman to participate in this event. She stumbled and hit her head near the 20-mile mark of the 26.2-mile race but, still, arrived at the finish line with a time of seven hours, 57 minutes, 41 seconds. Now that’s determination! She died in her sleep the next day at the age of 86. 

    Determination is always critical to achievement or success. Without it we are easily distracted and tempted to quit. Determination comes from deep within us when we are “bound and determined” to see something through to the end no matter what. When we experience negative circumstances (and the negative thoughts and feelings they ignite) our determination can dwindle, even die.

    Imagine losing a loved one. For some of us, we don’t have to imagine. It’s our reality. We are actually living life after loss. Imagine losing a beloved spouse, our dearest person on earth. Life after loss requires a lot of determination. It’s tempting to die when our loved ones die, especially a marital mate. Life may not seem worth living anymore. We may not want to live anymore. We may wonder who we are since we are no longer someone’s wife or husband. We may end up drifting into a mere state of existence.

    When we experience loss, we have a right to grieve. We need to grieve. We need to grieve in ways that are effective for us individually. We need to grieve deeply as long as necessary for us. For a while, it may take a lot of determination just to get up out of bed or engage in our daily routines. It will definitely take a lot of determination to learn to cope day in and day out with the reality of loss and how it has impacted our life. Building a new life after loss requires hard work for a long time.

    Christians suffer loss like everyone else. However, God’s word helps us understand that living a Christian life is the ultimate marathon (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). It is a race that requires endurance (Hebrews 12:1). A focused determined effort is critical to ending with an “imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). This personal discipline involves both self-control and self-motivation. We are going to experience hard times, possibly even horrific loss because of the fallen world in which we live. Christians are not exempt from trials (James 1:3-5; 1 Peter 2:19-20; John 16:33). We must keep reminding ourselves not to give up, not to quit. We must be determined to finish our race, even if someone we love has finished theirs long before us. Determination is critical to meaningful life after loss. One of the mottos of the Widowhood Workshop ministry is: “Don’t Die Until You’re Dead!” Be determined to keep living, no matter what!