To contend earnestly is an interesting word to look at.
Usage: an (athletic) contest; hence, a struggle (in the soul).
Helps Word Studies: – properly, a contest ( struggle ), a grueling conflict (fight); (figuratively) positive struggle that goes with " fighting the good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12) – which literally states, " Struggle the good struggle of the (life of) faith."
And Paul uses the metaphor of an athletic contest in describing faith as well, saying “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 2:4)
I have always liked the analogy of keeping the faith as an endurance race. Partly because, in my youth, I raced competitively during school. And drawing from that experience, I want to share an anecdote my cross country coach would always say.
Right before an important race, when all the runners on the team would be feeling jittery, he would say, “The race was won months ago. Go out there and give it your best.” What he meant was that how consistent a team trains months before the actual race would be the deciding factor in who won.
Paul characterizes faith as a work (1 Thessalonians 1:3). James says if our faith isn’t working, then it’s dead. There are some basic things we should be doing daily to keep our faith in form (reading the Word, giving thanks to God, praying in the Spirit). Diligence to the work that faith requires from us will help in the race of faith. Because if we dust off our faith from the shelf when a trial comes, we may be caught by surprise when we find ourselves lacking.
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11)