November Memory Verse

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…
– Hebrews 12:1

The chapter prior to Hebrews 12 identifies many Jewish leaders from the Old Testament (Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham) as the great cloud of witnesses referenced here. They had faith in God and believed in the promises He made to them. In Hebrews 11:1 we learn that faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

When 2020 arrived, we were all looking forward to another wonderful year and had faith that good things would be available to us. Being blessed with pastors and leadership devoted to planning opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship, we anticipated what makes First Church so special to us… worship services, Bible studies, concerts, art exhibits, friendships, and social gatherings.

There had been talk of the coronavirus reaching the U.S. as early as January; some recognized it as a real danger while others believed it to be a hoax. Then suddenly in March, a great upheaval occurred. The safer at home orders and social distancing rules brought with them a new and unfamiliar reality. With only essential workplaces open, our normal activities suddenly stopped; we found ourselves isolated.

When times are tough, it can be difficult to see through the eyes of faith. It is important to remember the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us and the ultimate Faithful One, Jesus Christ. They have modeled how to live by faith—by throwing off that which so easily hinders us. Prayer, always vital to our relationship with God and with others, became an even more important part of our lives as we turned to our Heavenly Father for protection from the coronavirus and its far-reaching effects. It is our faith that will bring us all through these unparalleled times.

We must remember that our Lord Jesus is always here for us. He stands with us; He understands our challenges, struggles, grief, and heartbreak. The very next verse, Hebrews 12:2, reminds us that we can only run with perseverance by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” His strength alone strengthens our weariness and keeps us from losing heart. Christian author Charles Swindoll also reminds us of God’s faithfulness:

From the tiny birds of the air and from the fragile lilies of the field, we learn the same truth, which is so important for those who desire to live a life of simple faith: God takes care of His own. He knows our needs. He anticipates our crises. He is moved by our weaknesses. He stands ready to come to our rescue. And at just the right moment, He steps in and proves Himself as our faithful heavenly Father.
(excerpt from The Grace Awakening, W Publishing Group, 2003).

by Elder Joan Lewis