Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
I am not a runner but recently my daughter and son-in-law told us that they were going to be running in a race in Utah. Jeremy is running in a marathon and Amanda is running a half marathon. My first thought was, Amanda, running? She has never been athletic. They are preparing for the big race. Preparing for a race takes time and discipline. You do not just decide to run a race and go out tomorrow and run.
A race is similar to the life of a Christian. That is why the author of Hebrews uses running as an example. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” As Christians, what is this race? It is all this life. The entire Christian life is a race and if our eyes wander from Jesus, we become weary. Let me ask a question: has following Christ become difficult yet? This last year has been tough. Has your heart become sluggish to the things of Christ? Have you felt yourself protesting living in ways a Christian ought? The author of Hebrews calls us in this passage to endure because he knows we are prone to weariness and we often take our eyes off Jesus. But we know as Christians there is no relief outside of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the author goes on to write, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus is not only the founder and perfecter of our faith, but He also gives us the strength to endure in our faith. This is a hard long race, and we must look to Jesus for endurance so that we make it to the finish line. Think about this last year and how it has been difficult for you and your family. How has Jesus helped us endure? Jesus is our help because He Himself “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” We are only able to endure because Jesus endured pains for us, and we are strengthened in our Christian race because Jesus humbled himself by suffering and dying for our sin.
Endurance does not eliminate joy. Do not miss that. It was “for the joy that was set before Him”. Enduring by looking to Christ as our source provides us with all-satisfying joy. I would say, apart from an enduring and persevering faith, joy cannot be found, but is only found as we run to Christ with all our might. We run the race but Jesus gives us the strength to do it. Let us run with endurance. Remember. We will win with Jesus!