Life can be unrelenting to the point that it causes us to question our faith. Yet God never wastes a moment and turns even our failures to develop our faith.
Faith is not a silver bullet to end all hardships in life, but it does help us avoid more of them and gives an effective approach when facing them.
As one commentary stated, “Suffering and adversity cannot and will not hinder God from making good on all His promises.” New American Commentary
Hebrews 12 begins by admonishing Christians not to grow weary or fainthearted. These two words paired communicate that no matter what you’re facing or for how long you’ve been facing it, don’t give up!
If God is with you, then there is hope!
You may only be able to see your circumstances encamped around you or feel the pressure of the moment, but it’s the Spirit/power of God that keeps you going.
Hebrews 12:3 gives the first of two reasons why we shouldn’t quit. The first is because Jesus endured hostility. Even as it culminated at the cross, He endured.
Hostility in the Greek means controversy, reproach, rebellion, strife, and disputes.
Hebrews 12 teaches us that God redeems our struggles with sin and hostility by using it as an opportunity for discipline. The word discipline comes from the Greek word “paideia” which means training or instruction.
Yet, to rise above our guilt and pain from hostility requires us to change our perspective. We must view our loses as lessons learned, not defeat.
As we allow God to instruct us, His training produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Righteousness is right standing before God. It’s the acquittal of unrighteousness.
Isaiah 61:10 explains how Jesus will clothe us with His righteousness. Because Jesus clothes us with His righteousness, we are to live righteously. That is what obedience is about.
Pursuing righteousness is critical because as we deal with difficulties, they can wear on us and cause us to act unrighteously. Righteous living produces peace.
Don’t forsake your peace by fighting to be right; instead, walk in righteousness.
In our text, we gain three instructions to adhere to as we endure God’s discipline.
#1 Lift your drooping hands. This is an instruction to pray.
“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” 1 Timothy 2:8
When our emotions spike, we need to process them and pray. Prayer is not ignoring our emotions but surrendering their projected outcome to God’s will.
#2 Strengthen your weak knees.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
When Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, overcome with emotion and unsure if He can carry on, He leans on God’s strength by saying, “not my will, but your will be done.”
#3 Make straight paths.
This can be interpreted as “move in a straight direction” or “pursue ways that are directed straight towards the goal. To make straight paths is an instruction to be intentional.
- Faith requires us to be all in and committed no matter how we feel.
- Faith doesn’t require us to be doubt-free, but when doubts arise, choose faith.
Don’t allow emotions to take you off course, but trust in the LORD with all your heart.
The second and final reason given for enduring discipline is to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
When you endure hostility and allow God’s instructions to guide you, even in your struggles with sin, it will produce holiness in your life. The things that are designed to discourage you and defeat you are used as tools to develop your faith in God!
If you’re struggling with sin and trying to hide it, stop. Confess your sin to God, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
If you’re feeling hostility while living for God and are afraid of what others may think or say about you, put your trust in God and allow Him to transform you through this.
Jesus endured great hostility from the people He created and loved, and so can you! Let His unfailing process work through you.