“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” (Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV).
In the ancient Greek games, a judge would stand at the finish line holding, in plain sight, the laurel leaves that would be rewarded to the victor. As runners came down the final stretch, they were exhausted, perhaps in agony, and feeling as though they couldn’t go another step. But suddenly there was the prize in sight, and a new burst of energy would kick in.
This is the picture behind the phrase “looking unto Jesus” in Hebrews 12:2. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. And our prize is the privilege of standing before Him and receiving the crown of righteousness that He will give us.
That is why we try to live godly lives, and why we try to reach people for Him. It isn’t for brownie points. It isn’t for applause. It isn’t for notoriety. It’s so we can hear Jesus say to us on that final day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” No, we can’t earn our salvation, because He has already provided it. But we want to please the One who laid down His life for us. Ultimately, we want to be able to say, “Lord, I took the life You gave me and tried to make a difference. Here it is. I offer it to you.”
“Looking unto Jesus . . . .” That keeps you going, doesn’t it? After all, you can get discouraged at times. People will let you down. They will disappoint you. They won’t appreciate your hard work or notice your efforts. Not bothering to understand your real motives, they’ll criticize that which they don’t (or won’t) understand. And that is when you need to remind yourself, I am not running my race for this person or that person. I am running for You, Lord. And I will keep running . . . with my eyes fixed on You.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.