It is day 34 of lockdown/curfew and oh friends, I am TIRED. My guess is most of you are too. And maybe, if you are like me, you know there are some really hard things that will not change after all this is over. That thought – the thought that life won’t necessarily get easier once lockdown is over – has made me at times feel weak to my knees.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have felt like I am losing heart. The ground beneath my feet feels wobbly, I easily tear up and sometimes cry. I have been praying for a clearer sight of Christ that would renew my hope.
Today the Lord reminded me of a FIFA Club World Cup match my husband and I went to a few years ago. The teams, Mexico against Brazil, were competing for second place. The stadium was vibrant as the fans cheered the players on, especially the wonderful Brazilians with their drums and chants. I was struck by how invested they were in every play. Their energy was contagious. The players were on the field and the spectators were at the edge of their seats, excitedly watching their every move. It occurred to me then that this is how the witnesses of Hebrews 11 &12 must be.
The image that the author of Hebrews has in mind is exactly that of a race in a stadium. The witnesses from Hebrews 11 ran before us by faith. They are now surrounding us, cheering us on as we race on to the finish line. They see us facing temptation, difficulty, discouragement and all kind of opposition. They see our weariness, our impatience and the thoughts of giving up. And they whistle and shout and carry us on – “You can do it!! Keep going! The end is near! It is so worth it! And Jesus – oh man, Jesus is SO worthy!!”
What blows me away is to see Christ as the main witness in Hebrews. He is at the head of the trail since He blazed it for us as our forerunner. There is a Man in Heaven guaranteeing our victory, because as our Champion, He went there ahead of us (Heb. 6: 20). “You can do it, because I did it for you and in you!”
Hebrews 12: 1-2 opens my eyes to see Jesus and what I see there about Him renews my strength and endurance to run:
- Jesus is the founder and perfecter of my faith.
The word “founder” has the connotation of pioneer or the first in a long line. Christ is the Pioneer of our faith – authoring it by having faith Himself. In the midst of incredible hardship, he lived his earthly, expat life with hope (Acts 2: 26). He trusted the Father and proved that he was right by rising from the dead. He defeated death, conquered sin, and did that for us, and in us, too. That’s my hope on days when my side aches and my legs feel like weights. He finished so we are finished. My hope is not in how well I am running but in how well He ran.
2. Jesus despised shame and endured for joy.
Christ could have used His power to get down from the cross. But it was on it that he bore the wrath of God for the sins that keep us from seeing His beauty. He despised the reproach and dishonor He experienced when he was beaten, mocked and put to death. The joy set before Him was worth it.
And yet, even as He despised shame, it wasn’t easy for him. He endured sorrows. He had no place to lay his head. He was indignant, troubled and wept at the tomb of a friend (John 11). Jesus felt this life. That gives me such affection and confidence that he really does see me well. It also gives me hope that Christ could feel victory (he really saw the joy!) even in what looked like defeat, and now he’s asking me to feel it today.
3. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
When Christ successfully finished his work of perfecting those He owns, He sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). His work is complete. His enemies – including all the sins and temptations I face – have been conquered and will all be conquered. God has guaranteed it (Heb. 1: 13). Now He is serving me by praying for me from his place of honor at the right hand of the Father. He is committed to rescue me to the uttermost (Heb. 7: 25). When I feel discouraged by my unbelief, I am overcome with gratitude and relief to remember that Christ has both sanctified me for all time and is sanctifying me day by day. I can run because He is at work. He succeeded so His victory guarantees mine. He endured hostility and he received the reward. And because I am one with Him, so will I. Thank you, Lord!
Dear friend, lift your gaze from yourself and from these circumstances to the One who began your faith. The plot that the author of your faith has written will accomplish its goal – it will perfect your faith.
Let’s keep running by faith these days where we feel our weakness in our bones. We don’t know when the pressure will let up and when (or if) the suffering in our lives will go away. But we can press on. We can patiently endure by looking ahead to the finish line: our Anchor is already there (Hebrews 6: 19-20). He is holding on to us and He won’t let go until we arrive.