“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).
How many times in my Christian life have I heard these verses to inspire me to keep running the race of faith? To keep reaching for the prize that I shall receive? To persevere to win? To throw off everything that keeps me from pressing on? To fix my eyes on Jesus who ran this race before I did? To not give up or lose heart? To keep my eyes on the prize?
These verses in Hebrews 12 inspire us to keep on running the race, but another verse in the very next chapter of Hebrews reveals something that makes this race so much easier. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” Hebrews 13:15, NIV). One of the most powerful things I can do to make this race easier is to praise the one for whom I run it! This verse instructs me to continually give God a sacrifice of praise. It is easier to praise God on the mountaintop than down in the valley, but I am instructed to continually praise Him no matter what is in my life now or what lies ahead. If I praise Him on the mountaintop, He rejoices with me. If I praise Him in the valley, my praise is a sacrifice that honors His faithfulness, and in my praise He carries me. Whether high or low, I praise Him, and He is with me.
Praise reveals who God is in my life. He rewards my continual praise with the grace of His presence. He is my God, and He will never fail me. His strength and joy will conquer all that comes against me. He is my guide through the pitfalls. No weapon can rise against me. No discipline can tire me. No problem can terrorize. I shall persevere, and hold on. I will run this race and make it through any difficulty because I have praised Him in all moments. He is my strength because I have none within myself, and in my lacking, I have discovered His. How do I keep these truths strong in my life? I praise Him because He is my prize.