We’ve spent a lot of time recently in Hebrews 11 and 12, trying to understand how the Lord uses life circumstances to mature and train his children. A few things have refreshed us, encouraged us to patience, and taught us how our Father works in real life.
As we read 11:33-38, about the results of the faithful life, we get a broad and perhaps unsettling picture. One thing that stuck out to us recently when we read was the exact contrast of those who “escaped the edge of the sword” (v. 34) and those who “were killed with the sword.” (v. 38). We cannot measure the Lord’s favor based on results. Both were called faithful in Hebrews 11. If this is not clear to us, the ultimate example is given in Hebrews 12:1-2 where it calls us to endurance by considering Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” We have learned that that sustained joy and endurance requires 2 things: (1) a clear view of the goal of divine joy to be had and (2) realistic expectations as to the means of getting there, i.e. a shameful cross. I think our evangelical and cultural background has struggled in preparing us for this marathon, for we are regularly taught easy quick fixes, that we should jump ship when things are hard or don’t come “quickly”, and NOT taught to discern the good fro the best. C.S. Lewis poignantly diagnosed our sickness, we are “far to easily pleased.” Pray for us that we would mature in peace and patience as we endured His disciplined training and joyfully obey his command to us all to “be thankful always and in everything” (Eph. 5:20).