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, 2 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.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. – Hebrews 12:1-11
I had quite an experience several years ago at a men’s leadership conference with several men from the church I served at the time. During part of the day, the men gathered around all the pastors in the room and held up his hands (ala Aaron holding up Moses’ hands), and prayed for me. It was deeply moving – especially since one of those men was my oldest son. I don’t recall for certain, but there may have been some cheering and applause too. I do remember the prayers.
I was genuinely touched and deeply encouraged by the experience. I wish every follower of Jesus would experience such encouragement. They say more pastors die with a broken heart than with an over-inflated ego. I wonder how that might apply to any sincere believer.
We are told here that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. You get the picture of a sports arena? There is a large crowd cheering and applauding, and urging us on to win the race. These are our people wishing for and cheering for our success. They bolster our spirits: someone’s cheering for me! We don’t want to let them down.
Who is in that crowd? Your sainted grandmother, your dad, mom, uncle or grandfather? Is it your little brother who died too young, or your favorite teacher who you know prayed for you each day? Is your neighbor who you visited before she died, or your co-worker to whom you witnessed and who came to faith before she succumbed to cancer? Is it a person from the really tough part of town but who was aided by your gifts to an in-the-trenches Christian ministry?
There is a crowd of witnesses. They are cheering you on. You may need to get a glimpse of them by faith. But trust me. They’re rooting for you. Let’s keep running!