Mark spoke from Hebrews 12:1-2 this morning, the second in a trilogy of sermons from Hebrews (the first looked at Hebrews 2, ‘But we see Jesus’). In these verses we read about the joy set before Jesus and the need for endurance.
Things we have to endure are often not the enjoyable things in life: we don’t talk about ‘enduring’ a lovely meal or ‘enduring’ a great night out. The most painful part of Jesus’s life produced the most fruit and joy, however. He endured the cross, shame and humiliation because He saw the ultimate joy which would come from it.
Just as joy was set before Jesus, we have to run the race marked out for us with perseverance. The word ‘perseverance’ in verse 1 is from the same root as ‘endure’ in verse 2; the plan marked out for us by God has the same elements as the plan marked out for Jesus. Endurance produces joy.
James 1:2 reminds us that we should count it as pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. Psalm 30:4-5 reminds us that weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. There are cycles in life (see Ecclesiastes 3) – times of weeping and times of rejoicing, seasons for joy and for suffering. Psalm 16:11 reminds us that “You have made known to me the path of life; You wil fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
As God shows us the path of life, there wil be joy – even in suffering, for we know that God works all things together for good. Isaiah 61:1-3 reminds us of the divine exchanges that are offered to us: beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness for mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, righteousness for unrighteousness. God conducts the whole universe to bring us joy.
Romans 15:13 gives us one of Paul’s prayers: “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Amplified version says “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” The ultimate end to this great plan God has for us is joy. We may be in a season of suffering right now or we may be going through great joy, but whatever our season, we can know that there is joy ahead, for God has promised us long-term joy!