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Endurance through what is terrible in this broken world

May 16, 2023

Daily Scripture

Hebrews 11:32-12:2

32 What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection.
36 But others experienced public shame by being taunted and whipped; they were even put in chains and in prison. 37 They were stoned to death, they were cut in two, and they died by being murdered with swords. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats, needy, oppressed, and mistreated. 38 The world didn’t deserve them. They wandered around in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground.
39 All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. 40 God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us.
12:1 So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Hebrews listed many examples of faith. But there was no whitewashing of the world’s brokenness. God was with all of them, but while some of the faithful lives had superb outcomes, others met tragic, terrible earthly fates. Frederick Buechner wrote that God’s grace means, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us.” * Their ultimate reward was not now, but in “a better country…a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

  • Hebrews 11:39-40 said we don’t always see God’s promises come true in this life at all (at least not fully) but wait for eternity. Few of us want to hear that. The apostle Paul described the value of hope for our life journey (cf. Romans 8:18-25) to Christians who lived in Rome (under the nose of hostile emperors). When have you had to wait longer than you’d hoped for a divine promise to come true? What promises are you still waiting for? What gives you faith and trust as you wait?
  • Hebrews called us, as we live our lives, to “fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter,” who “endured the cross.” What ways have you found of “fixing your eyes on Jesus” during the errands and duties that make up your regular, everyday life? What is one practice you could adopt that you believe would help you to “fix your eyes on Jesus” every day, in every situation?

Lord Jesus, when everything goes well, it’s easy for me to forget that I need you with me. When things go badly, it’s easy for me to think you’ve abandoned me. Thank you for being with me in both the light and dark days of my life. Amen.

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Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

When I was 16, I tried out for my high school’s soccer team. I was the second-string right midfield player… for the junior varsity team. I played half a season before I was injured and took the rest of the year off. I probably played less soccer than the cheerleading team.

Soccer, especially the midfield position, is an endurance sport. We started every practice by running 3 miles, and that was just the warm-up. I was not an endurance athlete. 20-something years later, I would learn that I have asthma. I didn’t know when I was 16 and trying to keep up with the other soccer players, but it does explain why I was so terrible at basically every sport.

I’ve talked many times here about my depression, which I also had at 16 years old, and was also not treating at that time. As visible as my poor athleticism was on the soccer field, my lack of endurance due to my depression took me much longer to sort out. I was very smart but struggled to pay attention in the classroom. In elementary school, I was dead last in our class for math, not because I was bad at it, but because I couldn’t complete the tests in the time allotted. Things did get better—by 10th grade, I was scoring in the 97th percentile for reading and the 99th percentile for math in my state—but academics never really came easily to me until college.

The point I’m trying to make here is that endurance isn’t something I’m great at. Both my physical health and my mental health put me at a disadvantage for tests of endurance. But I didn’t know that I was bad at those things until my endurance was actually tested. Until I struggled to keep up with the other soccer players, I just assumed that I’d be able to play sports—but the actual act of playing changed my perspective on things.

I’ll admit, I’m not excited about endurance running analogies because I’m not good at endurance running. Sometimes, the point in running the race isn’t winning—it’s just finishing. But beyond that, it’s about running. We’re not all great at running, and we’re not all great at endurance. Sometimes we have extenuating circumstances that make it hard, and sometimes we’re just not good at it. Sometimes it’s just harder than we’re comfortable with. That’s OK. The point is finishing, and that means you have to keep running.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.