Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1–2
We have a fan club…or perhaps more aptly, we have a cheering section. Through resurrection and the history of our faith, we have innumerable examples of people living out their convictions and their love of God in the world. The Bible is filled with stories of people who served as examples of faithful living. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Mary… The list is impressive—and it is headed up by Jesus. It can be daunting to think about trying to live our lives as the luminaries of our faith did so many years ago. We too often feel like failed sinners, not faithful saints. To read the great and heroic stories of the Bible can make us feel as if we are living in the shadows of lives that somehow darken our own by comparison. But the cloud that the writer of this letter refers to is not one that casts a shadow over who we are, but it is a sea of cheering faith siblings who encourage us on our own way. The names in the Bible, the list of saints, and Jesus himself are all part of a divine cheering section that can embolden us to run well the race that is set before us. What an amazing image—to think that Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Ruth, Mary and Jesus, Peter and Paul are among a crowd of faithful people who cheer us on our way! How can we fail to run well and live well when we have that kind of support!
Can you imagine Jesus cheering you on as you make your way through life?
Lord, most of the time I feel like my life of faith is a solitary exercise. Like working out at the gym, there may be others around, but the effort put forth is my own, and no one is taking particular notice of what I am doing. You challenge me to think of my life of faith as a very public affair—a race that is eagerly watched by countless people who have traveled many of the same paths I now take. I had not considered that before. You have people cheering me on. Thank You for that encouragement. Help me to claim the truth of it. Allow that encouragement to strengthen my stride. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.