The Discouraged Christian
I know several people who have been discouraged and frustrated in their Christian walk. I have even felt that way myself at times. Maybe you’re there right now…with no desire for God, or His Word, no desire to go to church or be around other Christians…maybe even no desire to live. From experience, I can tell you, the only place to go if you are in this place is to the Word of God and the God of the Word.
Read from Hebrews 11 (the great chapter on faith). If you look closely at the end of this chapter, you will see all types of things that the Jewish people suffered for their God. These things include, but aren’t limited to: mockings, scourgings, chains, imprisonments, stonings, being sawn in two, temptations, death by the sword, and homelessness.
Then the writer of Hebrews moves on in chapter 12 to show us that because of them, and their walk, and their testimony – we should be encouraged. I am certain that that is the context of this 12th chapter – to give us discouraged Christians hope that, as those who went before endured, so may we! Let’s look at what it says…
1 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, 2 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 right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2 (NASB77)
Being an English major, I can see all types of imagery in this text. First we are to “lay aside every encumbrance.” The word “encumbrance” carries the connotation of a bulging or bending load that we are supposed to put down, or cast aside. Second we are to lay aside “the sin which so easily entangles us.” The word “entangles” reveals that sin is means of the evil one to catch us, confuse us, and complicate our walk with Christ. And then we are to “run with endurance the race….” The word “endurance” in the Greek implies hopeful cheerfulness, patience, or constancy.
The imagery then is centered around a runner in a race; he casts off things that weigh him down, he does not get entwined and entrapped by evil and sinful things, and he runs with hope, patience, and constancy. This all is done by focusing on Jesus (see Heb. 12:2). Look at the Christ!
There are 3 things about Him that we should know, in order to walk with victory instead of discouragement: 1.Who is He – “the author and perfecter of our faith.” He began our walk, and He’ll see it through. 2.What He Did – “enduring the cross.” He suffered much more than we ever will. 3.Where He is now – “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The fact that Christ is at God’s right hand, and is seated reveals His power as the Son of God. You cannot be a discouraged Christian for very long, once you follow the instructions of Hebrews 12!