1 So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
At first, the author of Hebrews 12 compares a life of faith to the life of an endurance athlete. Step by step, the distance athlete endures physical pain and punishment in all kinds of weather. So too, our endurance to pain in life is partly physical endurance. There is also a mental game, as the athlete pushes through the pain of their circumstances. As any runner can tell you, sometimes it is just mind over miles that gets the job done! So too, our endurance to life’s challenges is also partly mental.
Furthermore, we find strength through our community. “We have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (v.1). Witness to witness, people of faith (like runners) often find the mental courage to continue because of their surrounding community. So then, our endurance is also partly social.
But mostly, Hebrews 12 reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the ultimate example of endurance, having “endured the cross” for our sake. Jesus is the ultimate example of endurance in life over sin, and in death to the point of joy alongside God! His endurance wasn’t just physical, mental or social. On earth, Jesus also had to spiritually endure.
Jesus’ endured spiritually by being in constant relationship with GOD every step of the way. Prayer by prayer, Jesus endured his earthly life and death by building on a holy relationship to his Heavenly Father. Even though Jesus is God incarnate, Jesus, like us, still had to endure physical, mental and spiritual pain. Like Jesus, may we endure all life’s challenges, prayer by prayer, to an active and loving God.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Whether you were born into a family of believers or became one along the way, everyone experiences challenges of faith that must be endured. How has your faith been challenged physically, mentally, socially and spiritually?
How can/do you return each day to building a relationship with our loving God? Think of a favorite prayer that brings you back to building and strengthening your relationship to God. Here is one of my favorites:
Prayer: For strength and love and living power, I thank thee, LORD, every hour. AMEN.