the joy set before us

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:1 – 2)

For many of us, 2012 has been a difficult and wonderful year. We have gone through a variety of trials, joys, failures, triumphs. I doubt any of us have had a perfect year, and I also doubt that any of us have seen a completely joyless year. Nevertheless, we all hope for a good 2013.

The year of 2013 is certain to have its ups and downs as well, but we need not be afraid. We have our Lord with us. The One who made us, the One who has performed endless miracles and victories, the One who made the universe – He is on our side. He will protect us, stand by us, hide us in Himself, save us.

Paul says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” angels. Angels aren’t delicate creatures with wings that fly around with halos. They’re heavenly warriors, soldiers; strong and mighty to fight Satan’s forces for us. We are not alone in this world! Since we are surrounded by this great cloud of warriors fighting for us, we shouldn’t be afraid to go forth in the name of Jesus Christ! We can throw aside our sin in His name and run with endurance the race ahead of us. Although we do not yet know what 2013 holds for us, we can already declare victory in the name of our Lord and Saviour because He is always victorious.

Jesus was hung on a cross and He went to it willingly because He knew that from this, greater joy would come. We ought to have this attitude with us too in the year ahead. We know that there will be struggles, pain, things we don’t (and maybe never will) understand. The Christian life is not a life of roses. There are temptations, burdens, valleys and battles. But if we go forth knowing that, if we turn to God in every circumstance and say “yes” to Him, He will turn our sorrow into joy, our burdens into blessings and our valleys into conquered mountains.

Jesus underwent a horrible experience out of love—love for us and love for His Father. As a result, He “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” If we say “yes” to God in the difficulties, trials, pains—when God doesn’t even seem there—we will be richly blessed and we will grow in our faith in Him. God uses trials to strengthen us, but only if we let Him. Will you commit to allowing Him to work in your life and help you grow this year, no matter how painful it is?

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

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