“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith . . .”
Hebrews 12: 1&2
Perseverance. This word calls to mind other words like strength, courage, resilience, good old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness. It means that we keep on keeping on to borrow a phrase from the 1960’s. Many of you are people who have persevered throughout your lives. You have made it through cancer and chemotherapy. You have made it through the loss of parents and partners and even children. You have seen wars. You have persevered through depressions and recessions. You remember quarantines and the fear that ran through your veins when a neighborhood child got polio or measles. And you persevered.
Some of us don’t have as much experience in this persevering as others. But this pandemic is demanding that we persevere. We persevere in self-isolation and social-distancing. We persevere in staying home when we’d rather go to a dinner party.
This pandemic is also scary. It’s o.k. to be scared. Even scared we are encouraged to persevere. Not only persevere, but run the race that is set before us with perseverance. The race before us says we stay in our homes and get a little cranky with our partners if we are lucky enough to have one. It means our children drive us up the wall and yet we are grateful we can all be together. It means we learn how to Face Time or use Zoom so we can still see people’s faces. It means we live-stream worship and we’re grateful to hear the word of God, separately but united.
Through this race we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. People who have run their own challenging races. People who know what we are facing and they are cheering for us. Can you hear them? It doesn’t matter whether we come in first or last in this race – it only matters that we persevere. By God’s grace, we can and we will do just that. Perseverance. Strength. Courage. Resilience. Thanks be to God.