This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
Therefore, since we also have such a large crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
Life is a journey. The author of Hebrews called it a race. Perhaps like a cross country race with ups and downs, twists and turns. In this race we’re striving toward the goal, the finish line.
The thing about the race of faith: it’s not about winning. We have thousands of years of people who have faithfully sought God and followed Jesus who have gone before us and have made it to the finish. It’s not about winning but it is about finishing.
Distractions throw us off course. Sin trips us up. The devil whispers that we’ll never make it and might as well give up.
As we face these bumps and trials on the course, we have two main sources of encouragement to keep us focused. First, we have Jesus. He’s the “source and perfecter of our faith.” That is just another way of saying what Paul wrote in Philippians 1: “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” If we have begun the race, Jesus and his Holy Spirit dwelling within us give us the strength and will to finish.
We also have the example of Jesus. Through the cross, he faced great pain and suffering but it was all for a greater joy. He knew he was accomplishing the salvation of his people. He knew that he was rescuing rebels against God and offering them the grace of becoming his brothers and sisters with whom he shares everything. He knew the joy of his family would be eternal. So, he walked through the pain and toward the joy.
We will never have to suffer like Jesus. We will not have to bear the weight of God’s wrath against countless sins. If we trust in Jesus, we will not even have to bear an ounce of the weight of God’s wrath against our sins. What he did for us is an encouragement to keep striving and keep pressing forward in order to finish life faithful to God.
Second, we have the example of all the faithful saints who have gone before us. That is Hebrews 11–the great “hall of faith,” filled with men and women who saw great highs and suffered many lows. They weren’t perfect. They needed a lot of grace. Yet, they followed God until the end.
Not only are their lives an example, but their voices throughout time are our cheering section. They have finished as we aim to do, and now tasting the joys of heaven, they want to see us there, too.
In life, run the race. Keep focused on Jesus. Hear the cheers of the crowd of saints. In the ups and downs, be encouraged. Even if you’re tired and feel like you can give no more, you will make it and the ceaseless joy to follow will be sweet.
All scriptures taken from the Christian Standard Bible.