“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
Hebrews 10:32-39 NKJV
If someone had come to me and enumerated all the things that I would suffer as a follower of Christ during the remainder of my lifetime, I am not sure f I would have continued in the faith. All praise be to God, I do not have His foreknowledge, as my human thinking is linear and confined to one experience at a time.
God did not test my faith with a huge presentation of all the things that would confront me. He took me on my journey of faith with baby steps in the beginning, with little victories and small proofs of His faithfulness.
Each step of obedience through trial, matured me as He prepared me for the next time of testing. That is the nature of growing in the faith.
The writer of Hebrews, I believe to be Paul, is instructing the church on endurance in time of trial. For the modern follower of Christ today, this is very timely message.
Paul was a good person to bring this message as he was shown much of what he had to suffer as he began his ministry. He was made humble for service by that revelation.
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.””
Acts 9:15-16 NKJV
The temptation is to pull back from the faith in times of trouble, to move to safer ground where the trials are fewer, and where negative attention is taken away. I suspect that there are many who have taken that step, many who have decided that following Jesus, and standing for Christian values is just a step too far.
Often those who have felt the sting of persecution, experience a kind of spiritual “Stockholm syndrome”, where they begin to take on the values of the persecutors as the losses mount, and people feel more and more marginalized. I have many parents on my list who are crying out to God for children who have strayed from the truth. Our you people are the most vulnerable to the pressure, because their culture is far more communal than any other.
The characteristics of the world have so crept into culture, that the values have been turned upside down. There was a time when kindness was common and people had a willingness to hear each other out, to seek common ground. But now, we seek supremacy by any means necessary.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
II Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV
The pollution of the world has flooded into the church, reducing its ability to endure the struggles. With the walls being compromised within, it is but a matter of time before the external supports buckle and the entire institution comes tumbling down.
The writer of Hebrews reminds the reader that what the follower of Jesus is waiting for, is far better than anything that may be lost. The promises of this world, pale in comparison to eternity in Heaven and the return of our King.
What shall we do in the face of all these things.
The Just shall live by faith.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Romans 8:31-34 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, awaken each day to the knowledge that God is with us. God has given me trial as a testimony of His faithfulness. If ever there was one who should have doubt about the love and faithfulness of God, it is me.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””
Joshua 1:9 NKJV
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
He has never left me nor forsaken me.
Let us renew our strength in the Lord, drawing close in prayer, in the Scriptures and in fellowship. We can endure in the struggles that are here now and any that may come. Let us ponder all The Who have gone on before us, knowing how faithful the Lord has been.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
May we live by faith.