For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
There is so much glorious relief in verses 12 and 13 of Hebrews 12.
Last week we talked about God’s discipline as a loving Father – the way He rearranges our lives in a way that may momentarily feel painful, but produces peaceful righteousness once we believe that He is good and His loving will for our lives is actually for our good.
In verse 12, we get a, “therefore.”
We get a, “If you embrace and believe what I’ve just said – that God is a good and loving Father who knows you better than you know yourself, this the benefit. This is what happens.”
When we believe God is the Father He promises He is, we are finally able to lift not only our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees, but the drooping hands and weak knees of others as well. This is a collective exhortation. You all.
When you hit a wall – when you consider turning back or throwing in the towel – remember who God is. Remember the struggles of this life are temporary, even when terribly painful. Allow the Holy Spirit to whisper truth to your heart that lifts your tired hands and allows your feeble legs to walk again. Do the same for your brothers and sisters in Christ. As you are able to walk, lift their hands and strengthen their knees as well.
As you put one strengthened foot in front of the other, walking the path that Jesus Himself has prepared tirelessly and sacrificially, be encouraged. This is not your trail to blaze. That work has been done. At one time, there was brush so thick and overwhelming that only One could cut through it. But now the trail has been blazed. It’s not without it’s steep hills and cavernous valleys, but the views along the way are tremendous. Your final destination? Glory unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
If you veer off path of this trail, the thorns you find yourself caught in promise to be more painful and damaging than anything on the trail. What’s more, the trail is the only one that will lead you to your destination.
The other amazing feature of this hike is this: you're following countless people who have walked this trail before, and you’re leaving footprints for countless people who will follow you, all of whom have been instructed to have your back. If you stumble, they don’t throw you off the trail. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they pick you up, dust you off, and offer to walk alongside you until you can stand again. This is not survival of the fittest. This is the perseverance of the saints – and experiencing the reality of it has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
Hope to see you Sunday, and I’m praying even now, that if your shoulders are slumped, your hands are drooping, and your knees are failing, you are strengthened and encouraged by God Himself and by His people this week.