How an Eternal Perspective Changes Obstacles in Life
In Hebrews 11-12, we are called to look back and reflect upon the witnesses of the Old Testament and to look forward to a better country. These chapters in the Bible form a sort of biography series, consisting of stories about those who resisted their immediate desires and put their hope in what was to come.
Long for a Heavenly Country
Abraham kept his faith in God’s promises, even though it meant waiting decades and dying without seeing their complete fulfillment. What sustained his faith? Hebrews 11 says “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (v10).
Moses could have remained in Egypt, living in comfort while God’s people suffered—but instead, he obeyed the voice of God. Hebrews 11 says, “Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (v25-26).
Consider Israel’s faith during times of old.
Hebrews 11:13-16 describes these Old Testament saints together. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own… a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Consider the many other heroes of the faith—whose names we don’t even know.
Hebrews 11:39-40 goes on to list many others—faithful women and men who were mocked, beaten, and killed for their faith. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Do you see the connection?
- Abraham endured a long journey because he was looking forward to an eternal city.
- Moses chose to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin because he was looking ahead to an eternal reward in Christ.
- The Israelites endured their wandering expedition because they were looking ahead to an eternal country.
- Many others endured suffering and death because they were looking ahead to something eternally better.
Take the Long View
In each of these examples, the women and men of faith were focused not merely on what they could see directly in front of them. They were looking ahead with eyes of faith. They could see a long distance. They had an eternal vision. They were farsighted.
Seeing long distance frees us from looking too much at ourselves and our current circumstances.
Pride, on the other hand, is nearsighted. When pride is active in our hearts, we become completely absorbed in our own circumstances and worries.
As Kyle Idleman writes in Don’t Give Up:
“Pride makes me self-centered. The more self-centered I am, the more I’m concerned about my own pleasures, desires, and comfort…
“Pride refuses to ask for help… Chances are, you have some people in your life who would want to help you. It’s just that you can’t bring yourself to ask.
“Pride has control issues… Pride makes demands and keeps us awake at night going over them. Pride tries to take control; humility trusts that God cares and is capable, and transfers the weight over to him.” (60-61)
In every form, pride makes us nearsighted when we need to be farsighted, even eternal-sighted.
Fix Your Eyes
After calling us to remember the witnesses of Abraham, Moses, and the people of Israel in Hebrews 11, the very next chapter shows us how to keep an eternal perspective.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. —Hebrews 12:1-2
There it is: Fix your eyes on Jesus.
One time when my wife and I were at the beach with our three boys, I gave them a test. I told one of them to see how straight of a line they could walk in the sand. So my sons looked down at their feet and took slow, careful steps, trying to line each one up as perfectly as possible. But when they reached the end and looked back, their path was anything but straight. It looked like the footprints of a drunk wobbler.
So I had them redo the challenge, but this time I had them pick a point off in the distance. I told them not to worry about their feet, to just walk right to that point. And of course, they walked in a straight line.
The point is that when we are worried about each individual step, we lose focus on what’s ahead of us.
This is the exact sort of thing Jesus is telling us to do. Don’t worry about your individual steps. Instead, fix your eyes on Me. Seek first my Kingdom and my Righteousness. I am the Eternal, the True, the One and Only. All else fails. And if you fix your eyes on me, you’ll have everything you ever need—now and for eternity.1
1Adapted from Days 17-19 in the Don’t Give Up Study Journal.
How do you grow in your faith and continue believing when you’re facing difficult circumstances? Go forward with courage no matter what obstacles come your way. Sample our free Don’t Give Up 7-Day Devotional.
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