'Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.' - Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Sandwiched between a directive to throw off what impedes progress in our lives and inviting us to take reflective consideration for what Jesus endured from others to keep us encouraged in not giving up is a heavenly perspective of hope that fosters joy. Recent reflection and meditation upon Hebrews 12:2 helped me to identify a perspective Jesus had in enduring what He suffered that can be applicable to each of us in learning to survive and thrive during dark, difficult circumstances. Verse 2 of Hebrews 12 reveals Jesus possessed a joy for something beyond the cross that empowered Him to endure the suffering of His crucifixion and what led up to it.
As I began to contemplate for myself what that joy Jesus had was attributed to I could not forget that reality that made Him cry out feeling forsaken by God, even though He had a perspective of joy that allowed Him to suffer courageously hopeful in a favorable outcome. Jesus had joy about the outcome of His suffering, but still felt forsaken. I have since learned through suffering feelings are never a true indicator of the reality of God’s presence in my life or helpful in reassuring me with confidence God will bless me and help me. Knowing Jesus felt forsaken should actually encourage us realizing my Savior understands how I feel, because He felt the same way.
Contemplation about this verse and Jesus’ encounter with suffering also reinforces to me the value of expressing verbally the internal anguish of the soul and realizing there is no shame in how I feel when clearly my Savior felt the same way. I don’t have to be a ‘super saint’ walking by faith pretending every day with Jesus is filled with rainbows and unicorns when clearly that is not the life He experienced. Neither do I need to feel condemned and ashamed of how I feel in what I encounter regarding suffering as if God is displeased with or punishing me, simply because the Bible says Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered and spent many days with loud cries and tears before the Father.
Taking all of this into account and then revisiting verse 2 of Hebrews 12, I imagine the joy Jesus felt that enabled Him to endure the cross, scorning its shame - being unmoved by the shame of what He suffered - He could focus solely on knowing He would rise again as He often declared and would return to Paradise where He would reign as LORD. It is this perspective, with Jesus as our example, the Bible encourages us to follow believing the same power God exerted in raising Christ from the dead He will use to raise us too no matter what we go through. This then is not a passive sentimental hopeful wish thinking maybe one day things may get better, but a decisive belief that this too shall pass and joy will come in the morning. It is a hope in God that facilitates joy in knowing that though God slay me I trust Him to work this together for good and make everything beautiful in His time and I will come forth as pure gold.