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. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Imagine a bike ride on a beautiful fall day, the path winding through a deciduous forest. Sunlight filters through colorful leaf-laden branches, speckling the path beneath. The bike trail is very long with many uphill and downhill slopes. At some points, it crosses grassy plains surrounded by rolling tree covered hills.
I biked this trail in the fall with my family. There were thrilling moments when coasting down a long hill, and peaceful moments stopping to admire beautiful views. However, there were also extremely difficult moments when slowly climbing up long, steep, hills. The only thing that could keep me going, was the fact that I knew the end was coming. It was in fixing my eyes on that which was to come that I somehow could manage to keep my legs pedaling.
This is a fitting illustration of life. There are seasons of like those thrilling downhill slopes, filled with excitement. There are seasons of great difficulty like the long slow uphill climb. How can Believers go through these changing seasons without growing weary? It is in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and that which is to come.
This is something I have continued to ponder since that fall bike ride.
We read that if we have hope in Christ in this life only we are of all men most to be pitied! (1 Corinthians 15:12-19) When the saints in Colossae heard the Gospel they were also told of the “hope laid up for you in heaven.” (Colossians 1:5) In reading through Hebrews I was also struck by the connection between this eternal hope and the heroes of faith. They endured and conquered because their faith and hope were fixed on the eternal.
… (you) accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that for yourselves you have a better possession and a lasting one… they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them… he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen… for here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come…
Hebrews 10:34b; 11:16, 27b; 13:14
This is the context for Hebrews 12 (I would highly recommend reading it in entirety). How can we endure and conquer in the same way as the faithful witnesses who have gone before? By looking unto Jesus and considering Him. It is Jesus that will enable us to not grow weary and discouraged. Our eyes and minds must be fixed upon Him.
I believe that an eternal perspective is necessary for enduring earthly trials. A victorious faith is built upon an eternal reality. We must not look at that which seen, because it is temporary, we must fix our eyes on the unseen, for it is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9