“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).
I can't count the many times in my Christian life that these verses have inspired 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–to not give up or lose heart! This race to live a life of faith which honors God can be a great hardship. So many times we just want to give up, but God says not to lose heart no matter what we face in life. A verse in the 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 we can do to make this race easier is to praise the Savior for whom we run it. This verse instructs us to continually give God a sacrifice of praise. It is easier to praise God on the mountaintop when everything is right in our world than down in the valley when life is hard. But we are instructed to continually praise Him no matter what we face now or what lies ahead. If we praise Him on the mountaintop, He rejoices with us. If we praise Him in the valley, our praise is a sacrifice that honors His faithfulness. Whether high or low, we praise Him because in all things He carries you, and He carries me.
Praising God no matter what I face in life reveals how much I trust Him. It reveals who He is in my heart, and how much I have focused my mind on His truth. When I praise Him in all circumstances, He rewards my 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. He will protect me. No discipline can tire me. I will learn the lesson He wishes to impart. I will not blame another, but will face and accept responsibility for any thing that I have done. I will also forgive anyone who has hurt me so that the enemy can't destroy my faith. Nothing shall terrorize me. I will trust God to take care of any fear that tries to defeat me. 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 weakness, I have discovered His. I run the race with a heart and mind to endure at all costs, and I praise Him because He is the reason that I run.
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