3 Considerations. 2 Questions. 1 Reminder.
1) Consider the Race – The Christian life is often compared to a race. But it is much more like a marathon than a sprint. The race is long. The race is hard. The race requires much training in order to finish well. Serious runners are careful about diet. Serious runners train their minds as well as their bodies. Serious runners eliminate anything that would hinder their running. Serious runners have coaches to help them run better. You get the idea. You can make the applications to running the Christian life with excellence and endurance.
2) Consider Those Watching the Race – The author has just talked about all the saints of old who are rooting for the present day believers to run well. I suspect the stands are full of our believing family members as well who have preceded us in death – cheering for us to stay the course, to run with perseverance, to do whatever it takes to run well. They have already crossed their finish line and want nothing less than for us to run our race in a way that will have the Lord saying “Well done” when we cross our finish line.
3) Consider Jesus – I love verses 2-3: “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” There is nothing that we will go through in this life that is any worse than what Jesus went through. As we keep our focus on Him, and not the circumstances of this life, then the race is put into perspective when it seems crazy difficult.
With all of that in mind a great question to ask ourselves is this…
Question # 1: What do I need to do NOW so that I am prepared when the race becomes unbearably hard? NOW is the time to prepare for then! Now is the time to ready ourselves for hitting the wall. Now is the time to prepare so that we do not give up when we feel like we can’t go on. What next step are you going to take so that you are ready when the time comes? And the time will indeed come. At some point, if it is not already here, life WILL be hard.
Sometimes life is hard just because we live in a fallen world. And sometimes life is hard because we are dealing with the natural consequences of our own sin. In either case, we know the promise of God’s Word that tells that “for those that love God all things work together for our good.” (Romans 8:28). So when life is hard that is NOT the time to grumble, complain, and whine. Rather it is the time to ask a great question…
Question # 2: WHAT, Lord, are you trying to teach me as I go through this sanctifying process of discipline and as You work in my life to make me more like Jesus? Many people instead ask, “Why God?” when life is hard. The better question is “What God”? It is a statement of faith to ask what rather than why because it underscores the fact that we believe the Lord is at work.
Even though the author of Hebrews has made it clear that life for believers will not be easy, he finishes this chapter by letting them know that it will still be worth it to run well and to finish strong. This life is temporary. The next life is eternal. This life is full of temporary pleasures; in the next life there will be fullness of joy. The kingdom of this world is shaky and unpredictable but we are receiving a “kingdom that cannot be shaken.” So his reminder to them, and to us, is that no matter what you go through in this world and no matter how hard life gets… it will get better. A LOT better.
May this brick help you to fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith and to be encouraged when life is hard.