I used to coach a sweet girl named Hannah. When I first met Hannah at cross-country practice, I saw she had raw talent. She was also very unsure of herself and her abilities. Through that first season, Hannah got a taste of what it’s like to train and compete. She was a hard worker, but she was often hard on herself and ended up in tears after races. We spent a lot of time running together and working through those emotions.
Hannah had a shirt she often wore that says, “I run like a girl,” and on the back it says, “Try to keep up.” Every time she wore that shirt, I couldn’t help but smile inside. The shirt served as a reminder of how far she had come.
I watched Hannah grow and mature. Somewhere along the way, she found her wings. She runs and has excelled as a ballet dancer now. She moves with confidence and grace.
In the Bible, we read stories of several women who lacked confidence at first, but whom Jesus healed and empowered in important ways throughout His ministry.
He went out of his way to meet with a Samaritan woman at the well. He offered her Living Water and sent her out to share with her community that He was the Messiah. He healed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and provided a platform for her to share her story. He also healed his disciple Peter’s mother-in-law who was suffering from a severe fever. She immediately got up and began to serve, showing how Jesus brings us into places where He can use our gifts to bless and help others.
The women who followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered with Him were there when Jesus died and when His body was brought to the tomb after He died on the cross. Mary Magdalene (whom Jesus delivered from seven demons), the other Mary (mother of James), Salome, (mother of James and John), and Joanna (wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward) brought spices to the tomb on the day after the Sabbath (Matthew 28; Luke 24:10).
There was a great earthquake and an angel as bright as lightning and dressed in white descended from heaven. The guards were quaking in their sandals.
The angel spoke purposefully to the women: “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you” (Matthew 28:5–7, NLT).
The angel shared this message about Jesus’ resurrection with the women first. There are myriad other more grandiose ways He could have announced this, but God chose to use an angel to reach out personally to the women whose lives were transformed by His Son. He invited them to be the first eyewitnesses, the messengers, the carriers of this Good News.
The women wasted no time. They ran. I imagine them picking up their skirts in their hands and running with all their strength. These girls were fueled by joy and wild wonder. The only one who could keep up with them was Jesus himself.
He stops them in their tracks. “And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, ‘‘Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there’” (Matthew 28:9–10, NLT).
These women were given the awesome privilege of testifying that Jesus had risen from the dead just as He said He would. In their culture, it might have been difficult to convince the disciples and others this was true because Jewish men did not consider women to be reliable witnesses, but Jesus reassures them not to be afraid. Like the angel, He urges them to go and tell the brothers He is coming.
I had the privilege of helping train my friend Hannah to run her first half marathon a few years ago. Not many twelve-year-olds are signing up to run 13.1 miles with their coach. That girl pushed the pace as we ran the first seven miles together. Then I set her free to fly to the finish on her own. Like Mary Magdalene and the other women Jesus met after His resurrection, she was not afraid to run like a girl.
Have you ever lacked confidence? Can you recall someone or something that helped you gain courage to keep running your race? Who can you encourage in a similar way today? Take a moment to text or call a friend to impart courage like Jesus did.
*This was originally published in the Walk Run Soar devotional, which is now available in paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and ebook. More details here.