Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coping with Difficulty

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3  Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. 4  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Heb 12:12  Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14  Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

Some Christian teachers seem to imply that following Jesus will result in prosperity, blessing and abundance. This passage from Hebrews contradicts this. We are told quite bluntly that following Jesus will be difficult and disheartening.  Nevertheless, the readers are encouraged to “run with perseverance” (vs 1) and to “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (vs 12). Our Christian living should not be poisoned by bitterness and disturbance. Instead – despite the difficulties – “pursue peace with everyone” (vs14). We are told that they key to doing this is through the grace of God (vs 15).

Pray that God’s Graceful strength will bring a new spring to your step, and a new lightness to your spirit.     

Thought: “Let us throw off whatever weighs us down, or damps the vigour of our Soul.” (John Wesley)[1]

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.
Words: John S. B. Monsell, Hymns of Love and Praise for the Church’s Year, 1863.

The Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Unchanging Truths
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 90.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.   

[1] John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on Hebrews Chapter 12.

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