Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Life is hard. You likely already know that because of personal experiences of heartache, suffering or sorrow in the past or present.
Following Jesus is even harder. For added to all the regular trials and tribulations of human life is the awareness that eternity is in play in the ordinary moments of our everyday lives. What we do in the here and now will make a difference in the eternal moment when time is no longer counted. And what adds to the difficulty is the knowledge that arrayed against us is a vast army of evil that seeks to doom us.
But there is no pressure on us, for we never walk alone.
We are being cheered on by all those who have gone before us in faith: Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah are all rooting for us in the heavenly realms. Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Rahab are hollering themselves hoarse to encourage us to press on in faith. Added to their number are all the people who planted seeds of faith in our hearts, watered those seeds with faith-filled support and encouragement, and Jesus worked through them to cause our faith to germinate and growl.
The ones who cheer us on are people to whom we can relate. The faith heroes listed in Hebrews chapter 11 are all broken people, as are our personal spiritual mentors, and we are broken too. And that brokenness perfectly qualifies us to succeed in faith. For success in faith is not doing great things. Success in faith is persevering in trust.
All of us have a path marked out for us in life. There will be difficulty and obstacles in our way. There will be times when we stumble and fall. But the trajectory of our path has been forever changed by Jesus. He picks us up, brushes us off and sets us on our feet once again. He guides us in the way we should go and provides what we need for the journey. Somehow, He is not only our biggest cheerleader throughout the race, He is also waiting to welcome us at the end.
Exhausted, we collapse at the finish line into His loving arms. But then we look around and see that everything has changed. All things—the world around us, the faith inside us and our very selves (body and soul)—have all become perfect.
It’s all because of Jesus. He started God’s Great Plan of Redemption. He will finish it. And you and I are included in that Plan. So we keep trusting in Jesus.
Dear Jesus, please help us to be encouraged by the faith stories of those who are cheering us on. Give us strength and courage to complete our race. Help us to cheer for others as they run their own races. Amen.