Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Moving forward. It is something we know we ought to do in our lives, and yet it is often quite difficult to do so.
We have so much that can weigh us down. Sin besets us. We can become discouraged and despair of our ability to do anything. Fear can paralyze us. Even simple inertia can keep us from going forward and making changes.
Yet God calls us to continually and irrepressibly go forward. We have the great cloud of witnesses of the saints of years gone by: their examples of faith in the face of difficulty can encourage us, and we can view them as cheering us on our own journeys.
This is why we must lay aside the weights that keep us down. While sin may beset us, we must believe in God, humbly confess our faults before Him, and break through (1 John 1:9). While discouragement and despair may bring us downward, faith and hope can encourage us (Romans 8:23-25, 1 Corinthians 13:10). While fear may paralyze, God tells us to no longer fear, but trust in Him and His victory (Revelation 1:17-19). Even inertia can be overcome in zeal for God and His ways (2 Corinthians 9:2).
Yet the only way we can move forward is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is the way, the truth, the life, and the resurrection (John 11:25, John 14:6). He suffered temptation and yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Our faith is based in who He is and what He accomplished, and He is the one who makes up for our deficiencies through His own atonement.
The Hebrew author does not deny that suffering will come to believers, but shows us that through suffering we can gain exaltation. He suffered the humiliation and suffering of the cross because of the joy set before Him; thanks to Him, we can persevere through our own suffering, since eternity with God is set before us if we endure (1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 Peter 2:21-24, Matthew 10:22).
The forces of darkness provide every reason to become discouraged, to fall into despair, to suffer in sin, and to go nowhere. Yet God beckons through the example of Jesus Christ to go forward. The saints of God can encourage you by their example. Fellow Christians can encourage you on the journey. But you can only persevere and move forward by looking to Jesus and following His ways in His might and strength.
If we do not move forward, we fall behind. Let us constantly press onward and upward toward eternity with God (Philippians 3:13-14)!
Ethan R. Longhenry