“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet…” – Hebrews 12:12-13
In this chapter the author has been writing to us about our spirituality. He compares it to running a race and that it is a race of endurance. He shares how we are to keep our attention on the finish line, which should drive us forward. Then, he goes into deeper training through discipline and correction. And he reminds us that when we are corrected by God, it simply means that He loves us and wants us to be well trained and grow into spiritual maturity.
In sports, as in life and our spiritual life with Christ, there are those who, when challenged, dig deep and push forward in the face of adversity. As a result, they become stronger for the next challenge. On the other side, there are those who when challenged, buckle under the pressure and many times just give up. They either despise the training or faint under pressure. The outcome depends on our perspective and attitude towards the training.
I have heard it said that this portion of scripture sounds like a coach’s orders to his team. “Lift up your hands! Strengthen those knees! Get those lazy feet on the track! On your mark, get set, GO!” Once again the author is exhorting the people to keep moving forward in their faith in Christ and not to turn back.
It is in the challenges of life that we often learn the most about ourselves. We learn what we are made of and who our trust and faith are really in. Leslie Weatherhead wrote, “Like all men I love and prefer the sunny uplands of experience, where health, happiness, and success abound, but I have learned far more about God and life and myself in the darkness of fear and failure than I have ever learned in the sunshine. There are such things as the treasures of darkness. The darkness, thank God, passes. But what one learns in the darkness one possesses forever.”
“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:1-4