I remember taking eye exams as a child and being quite proud that I could stand back twenty feet from the sign with all the random letters and read each one. I’ve had 20/20 vision for as long as I can remember. I’ve never worn glasses—never needed to.
Lately my perfect eye sight isn’t so perfect. The revelation that my eye sight isn’t up to par came one night as I was attempting to drive in the rain. It wasn’t a downpour, it was a normal rainfall, yet I found myself squinting to see the white lines and everything looked like a bright reflection. Reflection of what, I don’t know, but I knew I couldn’t see. Then later I realized I couldn’t read signs that were far away. I finally accepted that I no longer have 20/20 vision and needed to go to see an eye doctor.
As I’ve continued to walk with the Lord I have also had seasons of blurred vision. When we first become a Christian the future seems bright, everything is exciting, and there may even be freedom from past sin. But then the reality of the Christian walk sets in. We battle with sin, trials come, dry seasons leave us parched for the Lord and we realize what once bright and clear and wonderful has become confusing and difficult. We are in a torrential downpour and unable to see through to the other side. Our vision of God gets distorted and we can become discouraged.
A Race Requiring Endurance
Because of our inability to see the future and our temptation to forget the Lord we need endurance for the race set before us. I imagine the writer of Hebrews knew our tendency to forget God’s grace and purposes as we run the race of faith. Running a road race requires significant endurance. Each time I run a 5K I am well aware that I have to complete approximately 3.2 miles. At the starting line my mind is clear and my vision for the finish line seems secure. But around mile two I’m ready to quit. Surely we are finished I think to myself.
That is why Hebrews reminds us to run with endurance the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1). The Christian walk requires endurance because we battle along the way. We aren’t promised to have an easy race ahead of us and we need 20/20 vision to understand God’s good grace to endure.
Here are just three reasons we need endurance:
1) To fight against sin: Our battle with sin requires endurance. Paul explains that we have not arrived at perfection upon conversion. Though we want to do good evil is right there beside us (Romans 7:15-20). And as Christians we hate this. We don’t want to sin because we know it’s against the God we love. We battle our flesh as we wait for the day when we will be freed from this earthly battle that clings so closely to us. Our battle with sin can tempt us to discouragement or even condemnation. But we know that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We can run this race with endurance battling sin along the way knowing that one day we will be united with Christ, glorified (Colossians 3:4). And we wait knowing that he will finish the good work he began (Philippians 1:6). We wait resting not in our good works but in His finished work on the cross.
2) To endure trials: Trials will come. God warns us not to be surprised when the fiery trail comes (1 Peter 4:12). God tells us that trials test our faith and ultimately are for our good (James 1: 2-18). Trials aren’t beyond the sovereign plan of the Lord. He gives and he takes away (Job 1:21). He also gives grace through trials. Trials are difficult, Jesus knows and endured trials and death on our behalf. He was tempted in every way but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It is Jesus who gives us the grace to endure the trials of the Christian walk. He will give us the grace to wait patiently through our blurred vision as we might not see all of God’s purposes in them. But future grace awaits.
3) To experience discipline: There are times in our walk when we experience the consequence of sin. Those are definite times of discipline that we must endure in. But it is not only consequences of our actions that we experience as discipline. There may be hardship or reproof from the Lord as well. Whatever the case, we know that God is treating us as children—as his sons (Hebrews 12:8). The writer of Hebrews doesn’t make light of our hesitance towards receiving discipline. He understands that “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but there is a great encouragement for us to endure until the end. All discipline seems painful but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (12:11).
Enduring Until the End
So how do we respond when our vision gets blurry? We look to Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). We look to the One seated at the right hand of the throne of God. We aren’t running this race alone. Jesus is cheering us on—but not on the sidelines—He is right in the middle of the race with us interceding each step of the way.
Run the race with full assurance of faith knowing that the prize has already been won through Jesus. Our sight is blurred now but soon we will see clearly. Soon our faith will become sight.
Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She wrote on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, and serves as the Lead Editor of Karis, the Women’s Channel of CBMW. She guests post frequently at The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. She is the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody 2014). Her love and primary role is that of a wife and mother. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Thern and their two children. You can learn more about her via her site www.trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter: @trillianewbell.