The lives of the men and women of faith listed in the previous chapter form a “great cloud of witnesses”, all testifying that they have run the race of faith — and won! Their record reminds us that a life of faith in God is the best life possible, and that the struggles we face can be overcome as we trust in Him. The author encouraged his Jewish readers, many of whom were facing persecution and discouragement, to focus on the finish line where Jesus was waiting, seated on His throne (v.2). He is the supreme example of what it means to endure hardship and pain in order to glorify God. He endured the torture and shame of the cross (v.2) and the hostility of wicked people (v.3), and through faith in Him we can endure, too.
I often hear people blame the devil for every difficult day and every moment of frustration, but this passage makes it clear that some of our struggles are actually brought on by God. As the perfect Parent, God puts us through situations that teach us endurance and discipline (v.5-11). He trains us to trust Him; He disciplines us to disciple us. It is painful to go through a difficult experience or an unpleasant episode (v.11), but it is so worth it when we find that we have drawn closer to Jesus and that we have grown in godliness. God exposes our weaknesses through discipline, but He uses it to strengthen and to heal (v.12-13).
When you go through things that shake your faith, remember that you are part of God’s unshakeable Kingdom (v.26-28). One of these days all the shaking on this earth will be over — no more problems to knock us around, no more people to knock us down, and no more tragedies to knock us off balance. All that will be left is the sure, solid, safety of the presence of God (v.27). Until then, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s keep trusting Him. And let’s “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (v.1). I’ll see you at the finish line!