therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us [hebrews 12:1]
what an amazing passage of encouragement. the Lord is so faithful to send encouragement from his word in my hour of need. yesterday was a particularly heavy day for me, hearing so many lies of failure, discouragement, reasons to give up on people. maybe that’s where you are today. weary of being a minister of reconciliation. weary of the brokenness of the world. maybe even weary of the brokenness within the church. this passage is for you.
chapter 11 of hebrews is sometimes called the “hall of faith” or “heroes of the faith”, and it gives so many humbling examples of saints (believers) of the old testament that God kept in his hands as they encountered trial after trial after trial. you definitely should read it! then the writer of hebrews encourages the church to live out their new calling in Christ Jesus in the same way, with the same faith.
this life is no sprint. i think we all understand that it’s a marathon, which means we’re going to encounter hills, valleys, rocks, injuries, hunger, thirst, and countless other obstacles to work through in order to reach the finish line. it’s going to require endurance. thankfully, we know what produces endurance.
not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [romans 5:3-5]
suffering produces endurance. and the early church was experiencing suffering like we can hardly even imagine. so as they were growing in endurance, the suffering turned into a hope for an eternal weight of glory beyond all compare, 2 corinthians 4:17 and it’s for this same glory and joy that Jesus himself was able to endure the cross. he knew he was fulfilling his Father’s ultimate purpose in reconciling all things to himself, and that he would soon be returning to his side. (heb 12:2) since Jesus gave us our faith and promises to complete it in us, we look to him for this endurance through our suffering. we start to take on his character in our suffering. we see more and more of his glory, which heightens our hope to be in his presence physically in the day he calls us home. so we rejoice in our suffering. and we continue the race with endurance.
as we look to Jesus for endurance, he is faithful to reveal to us the characteristics in our hearts that are not of him, but make us dull in our reflection of his glory. these are the weights that hinder our endurance. the sin that distracts us from the hope of glory. that steals the taste of the joy that comes from fixing our eyes on him. we’ve got to rip these away and lay them down! they steal our joy, they slow our pace, and they weaken the glorious reflection of the Creator we are made to be! let’s lay these down together. before the Lord, before each other, to spur each other on to a greater joy.
church, the halls of heaven are cheering us on. our God is singing over us! may we be ever aware of his glorious presence and return to the fullness of his joy, following Jesus home.