Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I recently received an “add friend” request to my Facebook account from someone who had died 6 months ago. I initially chuckled and wondered how such glitches could happen, and then I had a moment of real longing—if only I could talk and pray with my friend, especially during this time.
Although Facebook can’t connect us to those who have died, Jesus can. Through His resurrection and through the resurrection of all those who die in Him, we are all connected and the presence of those who have gone before is still with us.
This connection between this world and the next is what today’s lesson is asserting. Here’s the background. The community that the author is writing to was losing their way, hope, stamina, and patience. In order to encourage them, he wants them to visualize being on a track in a sports arena. Just at the moment when they don’t know if they can keep on running the race, he directs their attention to the stands where the great “cloud of witnesses” are cheering for them. That great “cloud of witnesses” are all those who have already died in the Lord, and the author proclaims that in Christ Jesus, they are alive and supporting those who are still on this earth.
Many of us are tired of this time of being cooped up, tired of “social distancing,” tired of living on top of each other, tired of worrying about our health and the safety of those we love, tried of working overtime or not working enough or not working at all, tired of watching the bills pile up and our finances shrink.
Today’s lesson gives us hope because it proclaims that we aren’t facing these challenges alone. Because Jesus has been raised from the dead, and because He raises all those who die in Him, the veil between this world and the next is thinner than we might think, see, or perceive.
Today’s passage reminded me that I am indeed connected to my deceased friend, not by Facebook but through the risen Jesus Christ. Embrace this hope for yourself. Just at the moment when you are losing your patience, trust, or peace, look up into the stands of eternity. Who’s cheering for you? Can you hear them?
When we remember that we aren’t alone in this life or during this time, when we get a glimpse that those who have gone before are cheering for us from their own resurrected life, I believe we can be given the hope and courage we need to keep on persevering, loving, trusting, and living.
- Who is right now cheering for you?
- What “weight” is dragging you down and causing you to lose your way?
- Having heard the cheers of support from those who have gone before, are you inspired to give support to someone else?