The Road to Paradise is an "Agonizing" Struggle

The Bible describes life as a race, or an athletic competition. It also says that it is no easy thing to finish the race. Once we choose the path, we must "strive" to get to the goal. The English word "strive" is a translation of a Greek word, agonizomai, from which we derive the English word "agonize."

Of course our coaches don't advocate or require literal "agony" from our clients, but it does reflect a mindset of self-sacrifice and total commitment against a powerful adversary or a lofty goal.

Strong's #75 - αγωνiζομαι

agonizomai - Thayer's Definition
  1. to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games
  2. to contend with adversaries, fight
  3. metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers
  4. to endeavour with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something
Agonize to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
For this purpose also I labor, agonizing according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings always agonizing for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

For it is for this we labor and agonize, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

Agonize the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I have agonized the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

Strong's #74 - αγωνiα

agonia - Thayer's Definition
  1. a struggle for victory
    1. gymnastic exercise, wrestling
  2. of severe mental struggles and emotions, agony, anguish
And being in a wrestling match He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Strong's #1377 - διώκω diṓkō

Thayer's Definition
  1. to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away
  2. to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after
    1. to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal
    2. to pursue (in a hostile manner)
  3. in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one
    1. to persecute
    2. to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something
  4. without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone
  5. metaph., to pursue
    1. to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

Also translated "persecute." We must "pursue" peace more than those who "pursue" us (persecute us) for pursuing peace.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye , when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake

Rejoice , and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Wherefore behold , I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: