Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)
As believers living our daily lives here on earth, we have been placed in the world, but we are not of it. Where God has placed us (Acts 17:26-28) to function and fulfill our purposes here, we are daily challenged in one way or another. We have encounters with persecutions of various kinds and intensities, especially as we press on to live an uncompromising lifestyle to honour God and to follow the direction and ways He has laid on our hearts. These challenges would arise very easily. An example could be even to simply having to function in your place of employment under someone’s authority who is not godly minded and things are required of you that go contrary to your new creation nature. At the same time, you are also unable to remove yourself to a better environment for various reasons – since God has determined this place for you at the moment.
It is important for us to continue to hold our God inspired vision in the forefront despite the fact that situations are not going according to how we expect they should. John 16:33 (Amplified Version) is one of the most uplifting verses that keep me standing up:
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident; certain; undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you, and have conquered it for you]
The cloud of witnesses who have pioneered, ran their race before us and received what God had promised to them, cheer us on with their works of faith. At this moment, Joseph comes to mind. I have often wondered about what thoughts came into his mind while enduring his hardships. We never read about the doubts and fears he was challenged with. Did it actually enter his mind to ask “is God actually going to come through with the vision and dream I thought He gave me years ago ? It sure doesn’t look like it at this time”.
What about Abraham – years and years of possible doubts and questions. It came to the point where Abraham and Sarah decided to even help God’s timing a little and created an Ishmael.
How about Jacob who waited years and years under the manipulations and controlling thumb of Laban. Jacob was totally submitted, enduring patiently, till the time was right. He used the years to develop a God given plan which worked to bring him out in freedom and prosperity. We can read about how Abraham thought and how he fought the good fight of faith in Romans chapter 4: 18-21 (New American Standard Bible):
In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
The example of unwavering endurance of Abraham expecting a good outcome by faith, for sure was passed on to his son, grand children, great children and so on further to other Jacobs and Josephs – I will even be as bold to say that it rubbed off also onto Jesus, as we read in Hebrews 12:2,3 above.
We too are able to finish our course, successfully, with joy, despite the hardships that may have to be faced day to day. God is well able to perform what He has promised!