“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. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” [NASB]
This passage is often recalled when a person is overwhelmed with trials and suffering. The passage gives hope. Hope it what way, you may ask. To some these verses reveal that there is more suffering to come since the people who have walked their faith in earlier times had more than us to deal with.
Yet for most people, we see it as a source of hope. Yes, the Christians who came before us endured much animosity and anger, but we see what their reward was. We see that they held on to their faith and endured because they had a hope greater than the trials they went through.
The faith of our forebears can be our encouragement. They endured this and that and still did not doubt the Father’s love. These saints in the faith endured them and went on to be with the Father in heaven. These are the “great cloud of witnesses.”
These are the people whose faith under persecution helps us endure in our times of struggle. These witnesses not only give us hope because of what they endured, they give us hope as a cheering gallery as we run our race in life in the midst of our joys and trials. They stand and tell you, “Keep going; do not lose hope. We know from our lives the hope we had is truth. Do not give up.”
These saints identified with Jesus because they endured trials and suffering just as Jesus did in His earthly life. They looked to Jesus as their example and so can and should we. We look to the Christians who have lived before us and endured. In addition, we can and should look to Jesus Christ as the supreme example of living with hope and faith during trials and suffering. He endured the cross because of His love for all of us. He did not back down from what He had to do to save us. He took the hard way of His own choice.
We can look to the saints and Jesus who walked before us as encouragement that we will make it through our difficult times. We look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our hope, too. Finally, we look to these who have gone before us in faith and with hope as our cheering squad encouraging us to keep running the race.
Are you going through an exceptionally hard time? Do you need to be encouraged to keep up your faith, keep running? Look to our cloud of Christian witnesses who faced persecution, trials, and suffering. Know you are going through your difficult times just as they did theirs, but your end result, like them, is God’s strength now to get through it and the hope of living with God in His kingdom at the end. In addition, know that Jesus went through trials and persecution, too, and He not only endured them, but defeated them with His resurrection.
As a child of God, we have that hope. We will get through. Do not grow weary and lose heart. We will be able to say as Paul did in Romans 8:35-39,
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [NIV]
Will you continue to walk your days with faith and hope?