Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
When we think of being chosen by God, we think of grand and glorious things. While God’s purpose for us may glorify him, it may not seem so glorious to us at the time. In fact, there’s a good chance our purpose may lead us right into conflict.
God chose Mary to carry the Christ-child, a purpose that would glorify God. But she also bore the shame of an unexpected pregnancy, and the further burden of trying to explain she hadn’t misbehaved because it was God’s child. This explanation would have raised the eyebrows of even the most devout followers of God. When God chose her to fulfill her role in God’s story, he also chose her to endure the disgrace that would go along with being misunderstood.
According to Hebrews 12, Jesus also experienced shame. Crucifixion was the death of a common criminal. Naked, broken, insulted—Jesus endured both physical pain and the shame of being misunderstood. But Hebrews says Jesus endured the cross and disregarded its shame. How? Because of the joy awaiting him. Beyond this temporary pain and embarrassment is a glorious future in heaven.
We, too, can endure hardship and shame because of the joy ahead of us. Whatever pain we endure is temporary. We can look forward to what lies beyond the pain—if not on earth, then in heaven for all eternity.
In addition, we can experience comfort from God in our hardships (2 Corinthians 1:4-5) because Christ himself experienced the same physical and emotional pain (Hebrews 2:18). He knows and cares. God would never call you to do something without going through it with you. God lives inside you so when we allow him to live through us, our burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
Lord, thank you for choosing me to have a role in your story. I know sometimes it will be painful and difficult, but you will always be with me. I know that pain is temporary and your love for me is eternal. Whatever I have to go through now is barely a blip on the radar of eternity. Help me to keep my hardships in perspective. Please teach me to allow you to live your life through me so my burden is light. I look forward to what we can do together.
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