Wednesday, February 25

The Joy Set Before Us

How do we keep the faith through difficult times?

By keeping our Leader in focus and following His example:

keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. (Hebrews 12:1,2 NET)

Jesus looked beyond the cross to the joy of bringing "so great salvation". The pain and humilitation of the cross were willingly accepted by Him because His suffering was a means to something glorious--the joy of "bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory".

Those of us who follow Him can consider what He has done for us as incentive to continue to be faithful throughout our struggles. We do because He did. And just as His suffering was working something wonderful, so is our suffering. Our suffering has meaning, too:

Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons.....he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7a, 10b,11 NET)

Christ's suffering was working a great salvation; our suffering is working the fruit of our salvation: peace and righteousness. God's aim in our suffering is that we "share in his holiness". This is the joy set before us: We are being remade in the likeness of the One we follow. We are one of the sons and daughters being brought to glory.

So we gather ourselves together....

Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees (Hebrews 12:12 NET)

....and keep on running the race, enduring the difficult process for the sake of the joyful product.