August 3, 2022
Thank you for taking time to pray for our prodigals and for revival.
Author Strahan Coleman said, “May you learn to love prayer for its mystery; it is a meeting place between God’s autonomy and your invitation, remembering that it’s ultimately the art of giving up control, and trusting in his goodness.”
God’s goodness will never fail you. As you run the race of life, you can trust Him fully. He is with you and will not let you down.
“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” (Hebrews 12:1).
The first word, “therefore,” is significant. Based on what has been said previously, it connects and impacts what is about to be said.
Because there is a full lineup of faithful people who have run the race of faith successfully, it is incumbent on each of us to do the same. Some of them were killed, brutally. Some of them stood with their family all alone against the world. Some of them waited and waited, and even died waiting, yet didn’t receive what God promised.
We have the advantage of 2,000 years of added faithful believers. People like Phoebe, who was a deaconess in Cenchrea. Then there’s Monica, Augustine’s mother. Her faith, prayers, and Christ-like life influenced her entire family to become Christians — including her husband Patricius, a Roman pagan. In later years there was Corrie ten Boom, who helped keep Jews safe during WW2 until she was captured and placed in concentration camps. She remained faithful to the end. These are just a few who fill heaven’s roster of faithful ones.
Now it’s our turn, your turn. Your turn to live by faith. Your turn to run the race. Your turn to be the person God wants you to be.
The text says that we are “surrounded” by a great cloud of witnesses. What does that mean? It may simply mean that their lives collectively form an undeniable testimony to the goodness of God, and because of that we are encouraged to do the same.
Or, it could mean that the writer was thinking of the amphitheater, where the games were played. The stands were filled with eager, hopeful watchers as they looked at the contestants in the arena. The faithful witnesses are cheering us on to the finish line.
When you train for a race, you may put weights on to build your strength, but in the actual race you remove all the unnecessary hindrances. You run light!
This is what the writer is getting at when he says, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.” There are 2 categories here: unneeded burdens and unacceptable sins. Both will slow you down. This requires an honest assessment of your present life. Practices, habits, relationships, thinking patterns, and anything else that would distract you from living by faith.
The faith race is not a casual jog around the block. Nor is it a 100-meter dash. It is a marathon and will require everything you have to win. This is why the writer says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
The word ”endurance” is hupomonē in the Greek. It comes from a root word meaning to remain or stay under. It has the idea of cheerful or hopeful patience. Thayer’s Word Study says that it “characterizes a person who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”
You may be in the middle of a deep trial today. The message here is to keep going. Be steadfast under the trial. Don’t give up!
Sometimes, in order to complete a marathon, contestants alternate between running for 10 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. They do this repeatedly, completing the marathon that way.
Running a marathon successfully and completing the race requires you to pace yourself to ensure you have the stamina to reach the finish line.
When you are in the middle of a deep trial you may not be able to keep running, but in God's strength you can keep walking; sometimes just limping. Don’t give up!
The last statement of the verse, “The race that is set before us,” has a lot of value. It is a reminder that God is not only good but He is also sovereign. You are not the one who set the course of the race, it is God who does this.
He chooses the course. He chooses the direction, and He chooses the difficulty. He also has promised to be with you to the end.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel