Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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.
Felt like giving up lately?
Sometimes the Christian life feels so hard that we can be tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits. After all, we might say, how can I keep on trusting when nothing seems to be going right? How can I keep on battling when all I seem to be doing is losing? How can I keep on running when this race seems never ending?
You might not actually want to give up, but spiritually speaking, you are tired, and not too sure how to keep on going.
Listen to Hebrews 12:1-2.
We are not the first ones to have run the race of faith. There is a vast multitude that no one can number in glory who have finished the race and received the prize. In faith, they endured hardships and difficulties, but never gave up (see Hebrews 11) and nor must we.
But whilst this is gloriously true, we have another motivation for enduring in the race of faith. And it comes from looking to Jesus who went through the pain and shame of the cross ‘for the joy that was set before Him.’ This joy provides great motivation for us to keep on going. What was the joy set before him?
1. The joy of doing his Father’s will
Jesus’ joy from his youth was to do his Heavenly Father’s will. When found in the temple as a twelve-year-old he said to his enquiring earthly parents, ‘Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:49). Whatever Jesus faced, whether it was loneliness, heartache, suffering, shame, and ultimately death, he faced it with joy. Because with the Psalmist he could wholeheartedly say, ‘I delight to do Your will, O my God…Your law is within my heart.’ (Psalm 40:8). As children of God by faith let us make doing our Father’s will our joy too – and keep on going.
2. The joy of winning for himself a people for his own possession
An old hymn says, ‘He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calv’ry, And suffered, and died alone.’ (Charles Hutchinson Gabriel 1856-1932) And why did he do it? For the joy of saving lost sinners for himself. Why else would he say to his disciples that in going to prepare a place for them, he would ‘come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ (John 14:3) Because he loved them and delighted in them. As blood bought children of God, and so that others would be brought in too – let us keep on going.
3. The joy of coming into his glory
During his early ministry there were many temptations to give up. Even one of his closest followers tried to divert him from going to the cross. But nothing could deter Jesus from his task. He set his face like a flint to the cross (Isaiah 50:4-9). And why? Because there was no other way to come into his glory. The path he trod to glory, lay first in suffering. And the same is true for us. The coming glory is as certain as the present suffering. So as beloved children destined for glory – let us keep on going.
Felt like giving up lately? Probably. Going to give up? Never.
Sam Oldridge, Borras Park