“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…Consider him who endured such opposition…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” Hebrews 12:1-3.
Have you ever noticed the power of encouragement being based upon the credibility of the encourager? While facilitating Griefshare the one thing I repeatedly heard was the frustration of hearing ‘I know how you feel’ from those who haven’t had the experience. I know for myself when my daughter was living on the streets as a heroin addict, my greatest hope and encouragement would come from those who had run the same race and became victorious through their faith. This is what the above passage means. Encouragement and hope is experienced when we realize that God places testifiers around us in our journey.
The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews refers to those ‘heroes of the past who were not spectators but our inspiring examples. The Greek word translated ‘witnesses’ is the origin of the English word ‘martyr’ and means ‘testifiers.’ They bear testimony to the power of faith and to God’s faithfulness’ NIV Study Bible, p.1910. Great heroes of faith still live today, and I only have to look as far as my mother when considering a witness to the power of God. Imagine you are running the race of grief, having lost a child and spouse as she did. Daily you are expected to continue your life with the heaviness and hindrances of sadness and sorrow. Picture God placing people like my mother on the sidelines who have run that same race and have experienced great healing in their lives. By their testimonies and examples, hope is experienced through the same means they experienced hope – being surrounded by those who are keeping their eyes on Christ. They pull for you…they cheer for you… they encourage you knowing with certainty that you will finish the race of healing. In their confidence they assure you that one day you will break the finish line, experience joy through healing and move to the sidelines to cheer the next runner on.
We must surround ourselves with testifiers instead of spectators – those who walk in the power of God. Testifiers experience…spectators watch.
Read more articles by Brenda Emmons or search for articles on the same topic or others.