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Hebrews 12:1 starts off with “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” and leads into “let us run with endurance“. Being surrounded by these witnesses is an important part of being able to run with endurance.
The chapter before our passage in Hebrews 12 is commonly referred to as “The Hall of Faith”(Hebrews 11). It is an incredible overview of some of the great heroes of faith in God’s Word. We are reminded of their struggles and how their faith in God was demonstrated in the midst of it all. It’s inspiring!
I think it’s important for us to be intentional in reading about – or even meeting – inspiring people. Sometimes we need to see what faith looks like in real-life situations. We need examples to follow. We need to be reminded that it’s possible to endure.
Even Hebrews 12: 2-3 reminds us what Jesus had to endure in order to fulfill the call that God had on His life. We are told that remembering this will prevent us from growing weary or fainthearted.
Along with inspiration, we need to surround ourselves with people who know God’s Word, who know how to pray, who can support and encourage us in our difficulties. We were not created or designed to be solitary beings.
Created For Fellowship
Genesis 2:18 is often used to talk about the role of a wife in marriage. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Eventually, God created Eve who became that helper. But God didn’t create a woman immediately after deciding that it was not good for man to be alone. He created all kinds of animals first! He wasn’t just looking for a suitable spouse for Adam. He knew that Adam needed companionship, fellowship, someone to work alongside him, someone to talk to, someone to live life with. It wasn’t just about marriage and “being fruitful and multiplying.”
There is so much Scripture that talks about the importance of fellowship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that two are better than one because we can help each other up and keep each other warm. We are stronger together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us to encourage each other and build each other up. Proverbs 27:17 likens us to iron sharpening iron – Godly fellowship sharpens us and makes us more effective. In Galatians 6:2 we are exhorted to bear one another’s burdens.
Holding Up Your Arms
Even Moses couldn’t do it alone. Exodus 17 tells the story of Moses having to hold up his arms to ensure victory for the Israelites. Their lives depended on it! What an incredible responsibility! “No pressure, Moses, but if you let your arms fall, we’re all dead.” I can almost feel that burning in the biceps, the shakiness consuming his shoulders, the tension developing in his neck. Eventually, Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his arms. They couldn’t take his place. They couldn’t do his job. But they could support him as he endured what God had called him to do.
God’s design for the Church – His family – is all about fellowship, togetherness, unity, helping and encouraging and supporting each other. It’s not easy. We hurt each other sometimes. Families are usually dysfunctional in some way! But God still uses us and His design is still the best design. His way is the best way. It works. It accomplishes His purposes.
When we are weary and exhausted and struggling, we often tend to shrink back and isolate ourselves. We don’t want to inconvenience anybody. We know everyone else has their own struggles to deal with. Or we’re afraid of being hurt or rejected and we don’t think we can handle that right now.
But the fact is, we were not ever meant to go through this stuff alone. When we allow ourselves to become vulnerable enough to admit to someone that we could use some help, some prayer, some encouragement, we open a door for a whole host of blessing. This is how relationships deepen. This is how people are able to walk in the gifts that God has given them to bless the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). This is how we can glean wisdom from those who have gone before, and to comfort those who are experiencing a hardship that we’ve had to face, too (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Come back next week when I will continue on this topic and address the risks and rewards of this kind of vulnerability. We’ll look at how to live it out and wield the Word. In the meantime, have you ever been blessed by fellowship when you’ve taken the chance and reached out for it? Have you ever had the blessing of someone opening up to you, making themselves vulnerable, and then been able to minister to them because you’ve experienced what they’re going through? I’d love to hear about how the blessing of fellowship has had an impact on your life. Feel free to share in the comments or send me an email!