Meditations for Troubled Times
“…Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3-4)
Years ago, I ran the Peachtree Road Race. Everything was going well until “Cardiac Hill.” It’s a steep incline in front of Piedmont Hospital. It was hard for a novice runner like me. I grew tired, which led me to become distracted by the “offerings” around me—hot dogs, beer, donuts (yes, these things line the course of the race). Eventually, my weariness became faintheartedness, which is what the writer of Hebrews warns against in the Christian life.
Some of the professed believers receiving the letter to the Hebrews were being pressured to abandon Christianity and withdraw to a “respectable” Jewish theology. They were about to stop short of the finish line. They were spiritually sapped given what was going on around them. And, so often, the same thing happens to us. We grow weary and fainthearted on our journey from this life to the next. What are we to do when this happens?
Listen to the writer’s words here—consider Christ. Our tendency is to focus on our problems or let our eyes be diverted to worldly comforts. Yet, here we are told to affectionately meditate on Christ, and do so in two ways, one of which I will mention here. As you face many dangers, toils, and snares, remember that Jesus went through them. Specifically, he endured hostility. His life from beginning to end was filled with conflict. Not long after Jesus was born, Herod tried to kill him. Religious leaders sought his demise. The Romans crucified him. He felt the animosity of others, and, yet, he kept going. He didn’t let others’ enmity deter him from his course.
What are we to do when we are under attack or when we are tired from running the race of the Christian life? We are to look to Jesus and follow him. For some, a stay-at-home order is disastrous because their family is full of hostility. They are regularly blasted for being a believer, and now it’s worse given that availability has provided opportunity for greater scorn. The temptation in this environment is to return verbal assaults with our own hard words. However, we are told here, “Don’t do it. Consider Christ. He endured antagonism his entire life, reaching its pinnacle at Calvary, and he did it for our salvation. We, as Christians, are to look at him, walk in his path, and be faithful.”
This instruction not only applies to hostility but also to other pressures we face. Don’t get distracted! Don’t slow down! Don’t give up! How? Keep your eyes on Jesus! When I ran the Peachtree Road Race, I didn’t quit. Do you know why? I had my eye on the old man in front of me. I didn’t want him to beat me. Thankfully, we have far better reasons to not become fainthearted. Our Savior loves us, he endured for us, and he was victorious for us. We ought to keep going, then, by considering Christ. We are to turn our gaze from our troubles and onto our triumphant King.