In these days of cancellations and unfamiliar isolation, we find it necessary to look for ways to battle the real enemies of disappointment and discouragement.
One avenue to travel is the practice of looking back to those spiritual giants who endured feats of equal or even greater difficulty.
Because it is a path lined with God-induced heroics.
It’s a road, when traveled, where we find we are not alone. Rather, surrounded by the witness of a great company of overcoming saints.
In taking this jaunt, spirits are indeed lifted.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such
a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us
Paul often used a race metaphor when referring to our life of faith in Christ. He paints a picture here for our encouragement of a heavenly crowd of saints who have gone on before us.
In the previous chapter, he named heroes of our faith. I imagine them among the throng, joined by countless others who have overcome the trials and hardships of this life.
What makes it even more inspiring is that those witnesses were ordinary folks, empowered and enabled by God to overcome.
They all ran through the fires of this hard life.
Theirs is an example of enduring faith. One which models the difference God makes in a life.
It informs faith so that we, too, can overcome. So that we can be runners . . . and not mere spectators.
Allow their witness to fortify hope.
Imagine these faithful fore-runners—victors—cheering us on this stretch of road.
This surrounding cloud is our heritage. A heritage we can add to . . . and pass on.
Let’s run the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, Who endured the cruel Cross.
It is a race run in both the pasture and the valley of Psalm 23.
A paradoxically short-yet-long month ago multitudes strolled the green pasture. The same pasture, now turned valley, is indeed marked by a foreboding shadow of death.
But we do not walk it alone.
We have the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone on before us. Even more, we walk it with the same Psalm 23 Shepherd, Who has walked this same sod and knows our plight. Who has overcome death and promised to deliver us through it.
We are surrounded, Christian—enveloped in the love of our Father, Who intends only for our good.
These times are new to us. And most definitely challenging. But they are not unprecedented.
As we travel through, we can be encouraged by those who have passed this way before . . . and persevere.