Your name is Sarah, a late-middle aged, 2 times divorced and recently married mother whose 23 year-old son, Patrick, was seriously injured in a car accident 7 years ago. It was the kind of injury that left his mind intact but his physical, verbal and motor skills as, unless by the miracle of Christ’s healing power, a living photographs of the crash site. Your son now lives in a group home with several assistants and other special-needs residents. A disastrous divorce, several guardianship law suits, hostile injustice and persecution for being a Christian and you are allowed to visit your son, Patrick, only 3 days a week for 2 hours. I know this person. Here is an email I sent her.
It's been a LONG time! Mainly on my part, I'll admit, but rarely is there a day still where you and Pat are not on my mind and prayers in one way or another. As I was driving home from my shoveling job I heard God's Spirit bring to mind a passage that I have been meditating on for a while now and that's Hebrews 12:1-3...
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." (Heb. 12:1-3 ESV)
Couple things that are heavily laid on my heart to share in light of this passage...
1. You are not alone in your suffering, unanswered prayers and unrealized faith.
In the context here, the writer gave a whole lineup of faith all-stars...Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, his wife, Sarah. These people were described as people who "all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (11:13-16 ESV)
Other people mentioned in this lineup are Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab the prostitute, and "time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets" (11:32) These people, Sarah, are our great cloud of witnesses.
2. Inspite of your circumstances, what weight or "sin…clings so closely" to you that it hinders you to not "run with endurance the race that is set before" you?
Your race as a follower of Christ? Your race as Pat's mom in faithfully, through God's grace alone, serving, loving and encouraging him and just simply being there for him?
3. Consider the Chief Sufferer, the King of Kings, the Lord of every Lord, the Great I AM!
By fixing your eyes on Christ, follow His example as you "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely," and keep "the joy set before" you and endure your hardships, doubts and (in eyes of the world) shameful acts of faithfulness to your calling as a disciple of Christ, a wife, a guidance counselor in the inner city public schools district and a mother. Why was it that Christ "endured from sinners such hostility against himself?" He kept the joy set before Him of being "seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
For the "joy set before" you, Sarah, endure! It just might be that you are called to be among the "great cloud of witnesses" who "died in faith, not having received the things promised but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." Let that be up God though. As for you, while you may suffer things you cannot control, control the fixation of your eyes on the Chief Sufferer and strip away “every weight, and sin which clings so closely.” Sarah,let us “run with endurance the race that is set before us!” We are not running alone!