Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Example of Jesus
12 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,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of[b] the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners,[c] so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Notice that our passage of scripture from the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament begins with the words “Since, then…” or “Therefore,…” depending on the translation. Either way, it tells us that something has gone before and what the author is about to say is dependent on that. What goes before? It is the writer’s description of people of faith who went before him. He begins by saying, “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” Then, he begins to list people who have gone before, who lived by faith and talks about the role of faith in each life:
Then, when he gets to verse 32, he says, “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.”
These make up part of what the writer of Hebrews calls “the Great Cloud of Witnesses.” I love that description, not just “A Cloud Of Witnesses” but “A Great Cloud Of Witnesses.”
We celebrate a Great Cloud of Witnesses surrounds us every day. This Great Cloud of Witnesses is filled with people of faith who have influenced our lives and our own faith development. These are the people of faith who have influenced us and inspired us.
Who is part of the great cloud of witnesses that you envision? When I envision the great cloud of witnesses, I envision all those who have gone before us up in the stands cheering us on like a crowd at a sporting event.
They are the ones who, to use the words from 1 Timothy, who “fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.”
Among these saints are inspiring stories of faith and hope and love and service—inspiring stories of what it means to live as Jesus taught us.
- Those who shared their faith with their families and friends as they approached death.
- Those who talked about the strength God was giving them as they moved through the most difficult challenges of their lives.
- Those who looked forward to heaven, reunited with those who went before them.
- Those who identified with the suffering of Christ and understood, as the apostle Paul did, that we participate in his suffering, his death—AND in his resurrection.
- Those who helped their families—even as they faced their own death—to understand that God didn’t cause the illness and that God is present to give strength and hope.
- Those who worked to build international understanding and peace.
- Those who knitted prayer shawls to give to someone who was ill or grieving.
- Those who knitted little caps for premature babies.
- Those who tutored poor children.
- Those who used their own experience of illness to support others waking the same path.
- Those who gave generously of their time, talents, money and their own selves for the sake of others.
Today I am grateful for all those who have gone before us and who inspire us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster