Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us and
let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
Don’t you just crave encouragement sometimes? Advice is good. So is a challenge. A call to improvement has it’s place, as does the slice of conviction. But life is hard here in the trenches. We read our Bibles then stand up and the words we just read leave our consciousness and we feel just as baffled and annoyed as when we started.
Learning to praise from our knees while scrubbing the bathroom toilet because of the 7th daily potty training mishap takes so much energy. And we have no energy to spare. It’s spread across peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mountains of laundry and the grocery list and bills past due.
Sometimes just knowing that I’m not in this alone is all I need to know. And it’s difficult to get that sometimes. Everywhere I look, someone who claims to be having the same struggles I am is working through them better than me.
Sure she says her house is a mess, but I have certainly never seen it so.
She insists her children don’t sleep at night, but the profile picture of her looking like a super model does not back up the tales of sleep deprivation.
Diet? Eating disorder is more like it.
Those people offering encouragement don’t actually know what they are talking about.
The other day, someone told me my hair was so cute! My immediate reaction was, are you kidding? I haven’t bathed in three days. How is that even possible?! (I said thank you and kept the rest to myself).
We reject encouragement—and nice people—because their observations simply could not be based in reality.
In reality, we ARE all in this together. None of us has it all figured out. I came across the following in a book by Ruth Bell Graham the other day, and it made me smile. If anyone should have had it all together it was the wife of a famous evangelist. Surely she lived on a higher plane where encouragement was not necessary to buoy or sustain. And yet she writes,
"These verses have just been preceded by the great roll call of faith in Hebrews 11. And the picture I get is of a great stadium in which are seated all the saints who have preceded us, watching our progress as well as those listed in chapter 11. And I know that there are times in my own life when I have thought, if only I could hear one cheer!"
We all crave a cheering section. The good news is, we all have one. What seems insignificant to an outsider can be a tremendous victory to us. I triumphed over the cookie. Where are my cheer leaders? Likely wondering why not eating the 5th Oreo was such a big deal.
But that great cloud of witnesses up there in the heavenly stadium knows exactly how significant that seemingly small victory was.
“If only I could hear one cheer,” Ruth Bell Graham says. This yawning quiet, this hollow praise, this condescending encouragement we hear from our vantage point isn’t enough. We crave the cheering section of the ones that really matter: the ones who really get our situations, the ones who have a vested interest in our success or failure.
Let us run with perseverance. Sometimes God gives us a glimmer, but we have His words and His words and the knowledge that He and the saints are cheering us on need to be enough sometimes.
God is for us. Let us run.