“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1–2
We all live such busy and full lives. Does anyone else feel exhausted? (Please tell me it’s not just me. . .) This devotional series is about “resilience” in the Christian life. I want you to know—I’m not speaking to you as someone who already has resilience, but as someone who needs to find it.
If you’re with me in this, there’s a Greek word for what we’re after: hupomonae. Hupomonae is defined as “the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty.” In the New Testament, this word gets translated into English with words like “patience, “fortitude,” “steadfastness,” and “perseverance.”
In Hebrews 12:1–2, the text for today’s devotional, hupomonae is translated as “endurance.” Scripture says: “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.”
We are encouraged to run with resilience because Christ was resilient on the cross for us. Christ displayed hupomonae, and that’s where we can find hupomonae. Our Lord’s resilience in the face of the immense suffering and shame of the cross makes our resilience possible. In light of what Christ has done for us, there are four things that Hebrews 12:1–2 calls us to do. Practicing these four things can help us become resilient in our faith today and moving forward. Here’s what they are.
First, we should learn from the ones who blazed the trail. The passage starts by saying, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…” That cloud of witnesses has just been described throughout Hebrews 11. This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture. Some have called it the “Hall of Faith.” The chapter gives example after example of faithful saints throughout the Old Testament. These men and women followed the Lord’s call on their lives and endured to the end. As Christians, we have inherited a long history of resilience. We’re surrounded by all of these incredible witnesses who have blazed the trail for us, showing us what it looks like in different times and circumstances to be faithful to Christ. We need to look to Scripture daily and emulate the example of the saints.
Second, we should free ourselves from dead weight. Verse 1 calls us to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” Just imagine runners forming at the starting line of a big race. Then, someone runs out onto the track and starts handing out backpacks full of bricks. The gun sounds and the runners take off, all of them carrying a sack of bricks on their back. Any rational person would say, “That’s absurd! Why would anyone do that?!” But that’s what sin is. When we’re tangled up in sin, we’re choosing to carry something that saps our strength and slows us down. Sin drains away our will to keep making progress toward Christ. We need to remain unencumbered by sin so we can run freely.
Third, we should prepare for a marathon, not a sprint. Verse 1 ends by saying, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” A basic principle for running any race is that you have to set your pace based on the distance. Usain Bolt is an incredible sprinter, but he only sprints for 100 meters. He could never run that fast for 26 miles. If anyone tried to do that, they would never make it! Marathon runners have to be prepared and train for a long race. Jesus once used the analogy of a man who starts building a tower but doesn’t take time to calculate the cost beforehand. Because he didn’t understand what it would take, he ran out of supplies and had to abandon the project midway through (Luke 14:28–30). Jesus says, “Count the cost” if you want to be His disciple (Luke 14:33). God is calling us to a sustained faithfulness, fully surrendered to Him in all things. We need to count the cost and truly understand what it will take to run a lifelong race.
Fourth and lastly, we should stay focused on the prize. In verse 2, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to “[fix] our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of faith…” The words “founder” and “perfecter” mean the beginning and the end, the one who originates and the one who completes something. As we look to Jesus, we are looking at the beginning of our faith, the one whose work on the cross has made our faith possible by accomplishing our salvation. As we look to Jesus, we are also looking at the end or the completion of our faith, the prize and goal toward which all of this running is leading us. He’s our path and our destination; He’s where we’re going, and He’s how we get there. Let’s continually focus ourselves on Christ and abide in Him daily.
If we feel tired and worn out, there is hope for us! If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, He promises to renew our strength each day and help us finish our race. In God’s strength, we can “run and not grow weary” (Isaiah 40:31).
Questions for Thought
- Think about your life right now. What do you think will be the greatest threat to the endurance of your faith 10 years from now? What could you do this year to start preparing?
- What is one new habit you could incorporate into your life that would help you focus more fully on Christ each day?
Associate Executive Pastor, Practical Theology
Andrew became a member at First Baptist Dallas in 2012 and has been on staff full-time since 2020. He serves as a teacher of the Credo Sunday School class. Andrew has received a Master of Theology in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Master of Public Service Administration from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University. He is currently working toward a Ph.D. in political philosophy in the Institute of Philosophic Studies program at the University of Dallas. Andrew and his wife Ana have four children.