For those who have never felt persecution for their faith, the first part of today’s reading must seem a little foreign. Certainly, if we have encountered such it’s still hard to imagine what it was like for those early Christians. Most of Paul’s audience here would be non-Jews who hadn’t known God for long at all. It must feel like they had just jumped into a burning fire.
So many early Christians lost their lives for their faith. Around the world today, we see those same things happening at an alarming rate. While many years have passed, the truth still remains. “God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.” We are included in this promise of rest even if we haven’t ever been persecuted personally.
Growing up in the United States, particularly in the Midwest, I didn’t see any persecution for being a believer. It wasn’t until adulthood that I even understood any territorial history other than what was presented in the Bible. We didn’t study that kind of thing in Social Studies back in my day.
It’s been quite eye opening for me to witness some of that persecution. Recently David showed me a report of the areas of the world that were under the most attack. I wasn’t surprised that many of the nations surrounding Israel (but surprisingly NOT Israel) were at the top of that list. What did surprise me was that our own country of residence, Mexico, was on that list.
Without God we are weak. In our weakness, God steps in and gives us strength. Do you have faith enough to believe that? We have read a summary of the accounts of how the heroes of faith stepped out, trusted, obeyed, and received the promises of God. Have these examples empowered you to be more faithful? Are you ready to be bolder in your faith?
You have received the fulfillment of the promise they never saw experienced. These heroes of faith had long awaited something spectacular from God. God had promised something better. The promise of a Messiah. Jesus had not yet come when they left this earth, so their true promise had not yet been revealed to them. How much more privileged are we to know how God’s promise of a Savior came about for us all.
While they waited in anticipation, these heroes of faith took a beating for their faith yet persevered. Would you stand up for Jesus and your belief he is the truth, the way, and the life if you were cornered, back against the wall, with a weapon in your face? I know that is a brutal image to imagine, but it happens around the world still today. Especially today. Yet, we don’t always hear about those events. Persecution is alive and well, sad to say. The descriptions in today’s reading are not unheard of even today. Continue reading “Hebrews 11:32-12:2 – Persevere to a Bold Faith”
Oh my! What sorrow awaits is most certainly true! I think it’s an understatement to say that Jesus’ words “hurt” those religious leaders. Those words should have shaken them to the core of their beings. Yet, they did not understand. Woe to them.
Jesus totally called them out. I wonder if any meal was shared? Could it be that Jesus left with an empty stomach? That’s certainly not the issue here. He did give them their fill, however.
This psalmist has had a hard life from the sounds of it. There is a lot of hurt in his words. A life of persecution is never pleasant. I can’t really imagine what that kind of bondage is like. At best, I may have been laughed at for my faith or ridiculed for my devotion to God, but my back is free of scars. Perhaps this is just a metaphor, but some living in bondage during the exile didn’t have a pretty life. Our psalmist speaks for all of them.
I appreciated the statement, “but they have never defeated me.” That is determination if I’ve ever seen it. What a bold statement of faith, too. Amidst the trials, there was no caving in or giving up. His hope must have been burning strong.
It seems like in our day and age many take the easy way out. Others are quick to take a defeatist attitude. Many just walk away from struggles, acknowledge and accept their failure. They have lost their backbone. More likely, they have lost their relationship with God. What a shame.
How do you react to hardship? Have you experienced persecution for your faith?
While our psalmist has overcome and is returning “home” to Jerusalem, his bitterness lingers. He isn’t in the forgiving mood to those who have caused him harm. It’s not surprising. It’s hard to forgive when the hurts are in deep. It’s going to take God’s hand and influence to soften that heart.
How does this psalm speak to you today? Does it stir up memories of being hurt? Have you forgiven those who hurt you? I’ve got a few folks in my mind right now. They probably aren’t giving me a moment’s thought today, and that’s okay. I’m going to ask for help to forgive them.
Let’s pray. Father we give you thanks for all the provisions and rescue you do for us on a daily basis. But there are those people who seem to hurt us nonetheless. Help me forgive them. Bless them, Lord, today. Cleanse my heart and make me whole again. Protect me from harm. I pray for a renewal and refreshment. Take away this sense of dread. You are the prince of peace, pour down on me today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.