Today, I was thinking of all the discord in the world. People arguing, fighting, and bullying to get their way. People I love faced with sickness and death. I needed some refreshment, wisdom, and hope. As is often the case, the Lord used my present circumstances to teach me principles about himself. He gave me hope from two sources. The first, was from my reading on the abolitionist movement to end slavery. A multi-century effort to treat all men equal. Great men and women made a difference. One great leader was the great Christian leader, William Wiberforce. He proved positive Christian actions helped end the blight of slavery. The second source was in my present suffering. I sat here at midnight repeatedly throwing up into a bucket, thinking not only about my own minor health problem, but more serious issues, that I have had the privilege to pray about over the past year. He reminded me that suffering is inevitable in this world. In those times, we need to seek him and bear each other’s burdens in both prayer and deed.
Hebrews 13:3 “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
The writer of Hebrews encourages those suffering suppression from their community, disgrace, and financial hardship for their faith. They faced persecution and needed a foundation they could rely on. Their lives were in functional disarray, and they were threatened seemingly from all sides. There were hard choices to be made, and a hope to hold onto when things got hectic, hopeless, and hurting. Their hope and our hope is central to all that is Christian. It is Jesus himself. He is our hope, our hero, the perfect one who we can imitate and worship. We can follow those who came before us like the Apostles, the Church Fathers, and men like William Wilberforce. Like them, we can take courage and give our lives to help and serve others.
Hebrews 13:7-8 “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
We can choose to share in his suffering, and do good to others. We can rely on the Lord when injustice, hardship, and illness overwhelm us. For Jesus has proven to be our High Priest, suffering outside the camp for us, to provide us a new life, a new hope, and a future home.
Hebrews 13:11-16 “The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Questions to Contemplate:
What or who do you think of when things are hectic, hopeless, or hurting?
How can we can better rely on Jesus no matter the circumstances?
What positive actions can you take to help those you love?
The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Heb 13:2–3). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Heb 13:7-8, 11-16). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.