The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews has been called the “Faith” chapter of Holy Scriptures. It recounts the faith of numerous Old Testament believers who placed their faith and trust in God’s promises of his love for them and his promise of eternal happiness for those who place their trust and hope in him.
All these faithful believers died without seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises. In faith they waited for God’s promise that there was a better life waiting for them than what they endured in this sinful world, and, of course, then they saw the fulfillment of their faith when they departed this world to enjoy the presence of God forever.
Chapter 12, verses 1 and 2, gives the completion of the faith and hope that they waited for but never saw in this world: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”.
My wife and I have enjoyed many happy years together. But our lives have not been free of troubles and anxieties: the doctors stating, “it is cancer” and “it is life-threatening staph,” the loss of loved ones, the times of financial anxiety, the times of uncertainty concerning future events.
These and many other events like them make life in this world uncertain and troublesome. But through all of them we see Jesus Christ promising us not life on a silver platter in this world but the promise of entering his world when this world comes to an end.
This promise carried those Old Testament heroes mentioned in Hebrews through difficult times until they saw the completion of their faith, and this promise carries us through this world while we await the fulfillment of our faith in God’s promises.
Therefore when the world throws clinkers at us, we are not to despair, curse God, and give up; we are to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus” who “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”, and right now is preparing a place for us in his kingdom, where we will rest eternally from the rigors of this sinful world.
Rev. Richard H. Snyder is a retired pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.