These are certainly very difficult times that we find ourselves in, and perhaps this whole world pandemic and all the restrictions being placed on us as a society are starting to take their toll on you and your family. Often when we’re faced with tough stuff it can be very daunting and overwhelming. I think I’ve coped quite well with it all, but like everyone else I have my moments when I become quite depressed and agitated, especially at the thought of how long it could possibly drag on for. I was so uplifted when a Christian friend encouraged me with this portion of Scripture in Hebrews 12 in which we are told to run with perseverance the race marked out for us, “…2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2NIV)
I found it to be an encouraging passage inasmuch as it gives us some sort of direction in handling the inevitable challenges of life. For the joy set before him was the best way for Jesus to overcome pain, to endure crises, and it is also the best way for us to overcome the stumbling blocks and tough times in our own lives. The joy that Jesus had set before Him was the incredible, unconditional love He has for each one of us, and ultimately what His death would accomplish on our behalf. Jesus’ mission on earth was to restore humanity to God. When Jesus hung on the cross He was able to find strength and joy rooted in His love for us. And we need to find the same joy and strength in overcoming the challenges that we face in our lives.
If Jesus pictured us as He hung on the cross, then it makes sense that we should fix our eyes on Him as we persevere through whatever life throws our way. In his book “The Cost of Discipleship”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer articulates this same kind of thinking. He writes, “We shouldn’t look down the road ahead at what is too hard for us, but rather we should set our eyes on Jesus, who is right in front of us…”
In his book, Run The Mile You’re In, long-distance marathon runner Ryan Hall wrote, “I remember being at mile six of the London Marathon and feeling my calves prematurely tightening up on me. I started thinking about how many miles I still had to go, but fortunately I was able to channel my thinking and instead focus on just running the mile I was in and ended up running my personal best … Had I continued to think about how hard the road was going to be, I never would have made it. The truth is that the road was hard, but greater truth is that God always supplies, by His grace, all the strength we need for each moment…”
Grace for the moment is the key to endurance, and the one who gives us this grace, Jesus, is right in front of us, in whatever moment we are in. I know things are tough right now, and many people are feeling the adverse effects of this world pandemic, and the total disruption it is causing. I in no way minimize what you’re coping with right now, like I just said, there are days when it all feels too much for me as well.
But my earnest prayer for each one of you, as we endure these trying times in world history, is that you will keep your eyes on Jesus, and that you will find the strength and know His grace, to conquer this season, moment by moment.
God bless you,