By: Gary L. Hutchens
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2).
God guided the Hebrews writer to pen this great text of encouragement, and we really need God’s encouragement right now. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews, listing numerous Old Testament characters of great faith, sets the stage for this text. Those individuals, being examples of dedicated faith, serve as the reference to our “being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.”
Right now, we’re going through an unprecedented time in our lives. Reports of new cases of infection with Covid-19, and deaths as a result, are nonstop, and they appear to be surging again. That reality, along with all of the regular challenges of life we face on an ongoing basis, has created a heightened level of stress daily. What should we do, how should we respond, what should be our outlook?
As the text above encourages, we should always be “looking unto Jesus.” The Apostle Paul shared his outlook on life in this world, having experienced times of both abundance and great difficulty. What sustained him and gave him assurance in the downtimes as well as during the good times? He stated, “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phlp. 4:11-13).
A few verses earlier in that general text he talked about the calming assurance that we can take anything and everything to God in prayer. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
God knows our every need, our every concern. As we present those needs and concerns before Him in prayer, we know He is listening, He cares, He is all powerful and He will take care of us. As a result, He blesses us with a unique inner peace that guards our hearts and minds through Christ our Savior.
Because we are Christians, because we are saved in Christ we can be thankful in the most difficult of circumstances. Paul encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Paul first exhorted them to “Rejoice always.”
Then he instructed them to pray continually and, as a major feature within their prayers, “in everything give thanks.”
Even in the face of our present reality we have reason to be profoundly thankful. A great many people are looking for deliverance through some source connected with this world. We look for deliverance from the Creator of this world! We will be ultimately and eternally OK as long as We Keep Our Eyes On The Lord…
Gary L. Hutchens