. . . and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame . . . —Hebrews 12:1-2
As a single parent I often felt as if my life was a constant race. They call it the rat race, but my life . . . well it felt like a never ending monster marathon. There was no time for rest. Often I would collapse into my bed at the end of the day wanting to give up, wondering how I was going to do it again tomorrow. You see, when my short, tumultuous marriage ended, my children were 5, 15 months and still growing in the womb and I was thrown into this rat race over night. I was homeless, helpless, and hopeless.
All I could do was pick up one foot after the other and move forward one step at a time. I knew I had to . . . my children needed me to. Slowly but surely, I found 5 free minutes here and 2 free minutes there. I began reading the Word of God. Had I known it was so life altering I may have found the time sooner. I began to find comfort in verses like this one, knowing that I was running this race with perseverance, even if it felt like chaos and mayhem at the end of the day. And then it hit me . . . “for the joy set before him he endured the cross” Wait! He endured the cross with a JOY set before him? Jesus knew he was going to die a gruesome death, yet he stayed focused on the joy. Surely if he could endure the cross with joy, I could somehow, someway find joy in my circumstance. Yes, what I was going through was hard . . .
So I began, one step, one day at a time to choose joy. I did what my Pastor told me to do . . . fake it til you feel it! I would cry out to God that I didn’t feel joy but he promised it, so I believed it. I remember when my children were younger, life was hard. I was already a single mom and parenting my children was challenging. I was simply surviving. I had two in diapers and one in school and I didn’t even know how I was going to put food on the table, much less how I was going to get my children to conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to God.
I began begging God to give me joy in my parenting again because it wasn’t there anymore and my family was suffering because of it. And he did! As I read His Word, meditated on it and put it into action, He provided just what I needed and taught me some valuable lessons in the process. He taught me about parenting my children but more importantly, He taught me about the joy that only comes from Him.
You see, Jesus endured the cross with joy because He knew there was a purpose for it. Are you enduring something today that feels like you might not make it through? Is there a race set before you and you are certain you can’t cross the finish line? You need to know that there is nothing that happens to us that doesn’t pass through God’s hand first. He doesn’t cause everything but He allows everything because He uses everything together for His purposes. He uses our trials to perfect our faith and as we fix our eyes on Him, he teaches us how to persevere with joy!