1. Following God may get us out of hard circumstances. Chances are, at some point it will get us into hard circumstances. Into or out of, depending on God will get us through hard circumstances. However, circumstances are never the thing to center yourself on.
A. Don’t get overwhelmed by hard circumstances
B. Don’t get seduced by easy circumstances
C. Key is to sink our roots deep into the right foundation2. Our foundation is the true, dependable hope in what Jesus has accomplished, what God has promised us, and the great plan and family we’ve joined
A. Jesus’ accomplishments described in Hebrews
– Perfect manifestation of God
– More powerful and permanent than any angelic power
– High priest of a deeper priestly order
– Has succeeded through every temptation
– Defeated the power of death
– Offered a better sacrifice
– In the true temple
– Finished the job, making peace between us and God
– Opened a way for us into God’s presence
B. God’s promises in Hebrews
– There remains a sabbath rest
– Reasoned resurrection/restoration of promise to Abraham
– Made Jesus head of a better priesthood and better covenant
– Double-confirmed Jesus by an oath and a promise
– City of God
– City with foundations, not tents
C. Joining the great plan in Hebrews
– Hard times build our discipline/trustworthiness, preparing us for highest calling + joy God has ready for us
– Chance to grow in empathy and solidarity w/hurting, oppressed, marginalized, where Jesus is
– Inspired by those who went before, whose prize depends on us
– Joining to do our part in the great plan
– Deeper fellowship with Jesus who suffered it all
– Even now Jesus is faithfully engaged in the long wait toward the fulfillment of his desires3. We train our focus on Jesus:
– by engaging our minds (understand)
– by engaging our emotions + imagination
(trust and care)
– by embracing a gradual process (many tiny steps)
A. Engage your mind – The whole of Hebrews is building a case for why Jesus is rock-solid dependable in real life. Engage with it as such and seek to understand, to follow the arguments, to trace out the conclusions in a way that allows you to take ownership of them as your own. Notice and engage with the parts you don’t understand or believe. Keep showing up and ask for God’s help in understanding.
B. Engage your emotions and imagination – Hebrews is also full of evocative symbols, figures, and stories. While we should be cautious with our emotions and imagination, rightly handled they’re a gift. They are how we solidify our desires and shift our passion and dedication. Give yourself permission to care. Want heavenly rewards. Want Jesus. Feel all your feelings (good and bad). Seek out well-aligned stories, images, songs, etc. that grip you with these truths and immerse yourself.
C. Engage this gradually – Don’t expect to suddenly be able to trust completely when an unusually hard time comes. Now is the best time to take next steps to grow in understanding, believing, and caring about these realities that matter. And two weeks from now is a great time to do it too. Just keep showing up.
As we keep taking little steps to engage our minds, emotion, and imagination with these true facts that matter about Jesus and what he’s done, it will shift our focus off whatever good or bad things happen to be happening around us and onto our faithful God, and give us the strength to stay faithful in our willingness to go through anything to be with him.