Hebrews 12 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture…
First, I love the example of Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” As the world seems to swirl and threatens to sweep me up in its busyness and noise, I remember to “fix my eyes on Jesus” and to “run the race that is set out before us with endurance.” The Christian life is a marathon, folks – not a sprint!
I also love the teaching that God disciplines those that he loves. This would have been an especially comforting truth to the recipients of this letter who were suffering and experiencing persecution. For me, it is easy to believe the lie that my suffering is punishment from God. Like Job, I am tempted to despair in the midst of hardship for fear that God has abandoned me. I can feel like the psalmist in Psalm 88…
O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me? (Psalm 88:14)
But Hebrews 12 teaches me that God uses suffering and difficult circumstances as a means of discipline in my life. He disciplines me because he loves me – not because he is angry. He is committed to molding my character, and he loves me enough to care more about our relationship than my happiness.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).
Hebrews 12 ends with the reassurance that we no longer have to fear God’s judgment. Because of Christ, we are spared from the wrath of God! So we do not approach God in terror as the Israelites faced Mt. Sinai. No! We come to Mt. Zion…
to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:22-24).
We come to a God of grace and steadfast love! When we are pressed in on every side with difficulty and suffering, we are to fix our eyes on Jesus – who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to trust in His character. He is trustworthy and abounding in steadfast love! He disciplines us because he loves us! Hear the comforting words of our God…
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).