Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the righthand of the throne of God.
Jesus did it. He ran the race. He endured it all. He was misunderstood. He was mocked. He humbly endured shallow faith and doubt. He withstood the stinging and hypocritical kiss of the betrayer. He suffered ridicule, persecution, and crucifixion- and He did all this for the joy set before Him.
These thoughts come to my mind as I have somehow found myself in the middle of the most difficult chapter of my life to date. If you ask me, I would say it was a perfect storm that brought me here.
Key word: Perfect.
I don’t understand all the ins and outs of things. I don’t understand people. I don’t understand conflict and I don’t understand pain. I certainly don’t understand myself. What I do understand is that we live in a fallen world. The imperfect will not cease until the perfect comes, and the perfect is Jesus.
Jesus is beautifully and wonderfully perfect in all of His ways- even His ways with me. He is strategic and He is loving and thoughtful. He is gentle with me, even in my stubbornness. He smiles on me- even delights in me in the midst of my mess. He is thrilled to take my brokenness and make it beautiful.
He gets it. He is not without understanding of my pain and suffering. Jesus was literally abused and endured every bit of it for the joy set before Him.
So what was it? What was the joy?
Some say it was Heaven. Some say it was His place at the right hand of the throne of God. Some say the joy was His return to glory.
All those things, as joyous as they certainly must have been to Jesus, were already His. If you ask me, to joy set before Him was you and me. It was for eternal relationship with you and me that Jesus willingly and cheerfully took on pain and suffering. Everything Jesus endured was for you and me.
When the crowds mocked Him, He saw my face and decided it was worth it. He saw your face and smiled, because you are worth it.
When the disciples disappointed Him, Jesus thought of me. He thought of you. He carried on because we are worth it.
When Judas betrayed Jesus, He kept the picture of you and me in mind and reminded Himself that we are worth it.
When Peter denied Jesus, thoughts of you and me helped Him to carry on towards the goal.
The joy of bringing salvation to all the ones He loves was far greater to Jesus than the pain he suffered.
This is entirely humbling to me as I walk through this chapter of my life. Jesus could have turned away. He could have seen my face and said it wasn’t worth the pain, but He didn’t. My relationship was worth it to Him.
One thought of this is all it takes for my despair to melt. The circumstances surrounding me are nothing in comparison to joy set before me- Jesus Christ. In fact, I believe my circumstances are perfect.
Crazy? No way.
My circumstances are compass, directing my eyes to Jesus.
And one look at His beautiful eyes of love and compassion is all it takes.
He is the joy set before me. He is worth it all. He is worth the pain and suffering. He worth being misunderstood. He is worth being slandered and He worth being falsely accused. He is worth every tear and every heartache.
I will run this race with endurance with my eyes fixed.
All for His glory.
Because He is worth it.