“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.” ~Hebrews 12:1-2
In our journeys through life, we will all encounter seasons when it seems that the only thing we can see is woe, sorrow, and pain. It is in such times, especially, when it is vital for us to turn our eyes to the Lord in faith, looking beyond, over, and through our circumstances. Only by doing such, will we be able to attribute due praise to God and come to possess something of a humble spirit throughout our trials. Someday, we may be able to see the purposes of what God has been doing in us, even as Joseph did when he said to the very ones who had sold him into slavery in a foreign land: “And God sent me here before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you sent me here, but God.” ~Genesis 45:7-8a
Beyond ourselves there is the church, the whole body of Christ’s elect. We know that all things work together for our good – as a body, as well as individually – because we belong to the King of the universe. We must cling to the fact that he has reasons beyond ourselves for all that he calls us to endure. Our pangs and strife is not only for our own sanctification, but also, in one way or another, for the good of the brethren (as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11). The kingdom of Christ goes on. We are a part of a broader purpose and we are not alone.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” ~Colossians 1:11-14
Over and above ourselves is the Lord himself. He calls us, each one, to personally depend upon him, to believe him, and so to trust that he is God, as he has said. We must trust him ourselves, looking over this world, over the church, over all things to the One who has ordained it all. We must fear him before all else, knowing that whatever he sends our way is for his glory and for our good.
“I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” ~Psalm 119:75
Through the story of our lives up to this point, perhaps we can look back and see things we could not see at the moment they were happening. We must look forward, through the mists of the unknown future of both our own lives and that of all of history, to see the final end to which we are heading. If we forget to look forward, seeing forward through the rest of time, as it were, we forget to give God his due worship. He has shown us what is to come and has told us that he would never leave us. That is enough for faith – for true faith – for none of the strength we call our own is anything but a gift from him in the first place. In our daily lives, we are called to take our place among the cloud of witnesses bearing testimony to what God has done in history.
“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” ~Psalm 86:9-10