“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:3–4)

Every year in the Atlanta area, thousands gather to participate in the 10K Peachtree Road Race. For the novice runner all goes well until “Cardiac Hill.” It’s a steep incline in front of Piedmont Hospital where an unprepared participant will grow tired because of the difficulty. They may also become distracted by the hotdogs and doughnuts that are available throughout the race. It’s easy to allow faintheartedness to set in when the distance is long and there are diversions along the way.

The writer of the book of Hebrews warned against this in the Christian life. Some of the professing believers who received the letter were being pressured to abandon Christianity and withdraw to a respectable Jewish religion. They were about to stop short of the finish line. They were spiritually sapped, given what was going on around them. And so often, as Christians, that can happen to us. We can become fatigued and disillusioned on our journey from this life to the next. That can be true for the person dealing with declining health, parents raising children, or as we wrestle with sin. Weariness is something we all face.

What are we to do when it occurs? Our tendency is to focus on our problems or to let our eyes be directed to worldly comforts. Doing these things only makes matters worse, however. But in Hebrews 12:3–4, we are told how the remedy to weariness is affectionately meditating on Jesus, particularly in two ways.

Consider Christ Who Endured Hostility

First, as we encounter many dangers, toils, and snares, we must remember that Jesus also went through them. Specifically, He endured opposition. His life from beginning to end was filled with conflict. Not long after Jesus was born, Herod tried to kill Him (Matt. 2:15–16). Religious leaders sought His demise (Mark 3:6). The Romans crucified Him (John 19:16–23). He felt the animosity of many. Yet Jesus kept going. He didn’t let the enmity of enemies deter Him from His course.

If our eyes are on our troubles, weariness will soon overtake us. If our sights are on our Savior, we will have the stamina to press ahead and the joy to keep going.

What are we to do when we’re under attack or when we’re tired from trekking through our troublesome times? We are to look to Jesus and follow Him. He faced antagonism His entire life, reaching its pinnacle on Golgotha’s hill. He endured the difficulties of living east of Eden, culminating at the cross. And He did it for our salvation. As Christians, we are to consider Christ and let such holy meditations lead us to walk in His path and be faithful. We must not get distracted, slow down, or give up. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. That’s how the Christian can guard against weariness. If our gaze is fixed on Christ, rather than the trials of life, then we will be compelled forward in the faith (2 Cor. 5:14–15).

Consider Christ Who Shed His Blood

But then the writer gives us something else to ponder when dealing with faintheartedness—Jesus shed His blood: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4). As we go through the valley of the shadow of death, we must remember, as the hymn writer William Cowper put it, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

And yet it is also important to note what verse 4 says that we are battling against. It doesn’t say worldly powers or the devil, even though both are adversaries we face. Instead, the stress here is on sin. To describe this conflict, the writer speaks of it as “a struggle.” That word used in verse 4 means to “intensely contend,” which can be likened to a boxing match. Indwelling sin is coming for us. It wants to give body blows and shots to the head. It wants to knock us out of the fight. It is seeking to destroy us and to cause us to throw in the towel. But the admonition given is this: “Don’t grow weary, because you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. The attacks you face have not led to your death. And even if they did, the sting of death has been removed. Christ took it. He suffered condemnation for sin.”

What does this mean? Jesus knows better than anyone what we face, and He is committed to us. His help in sorrow is near. So—borrowing language from the hymn “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!”—while the billows over us roll, even when our hearts are breaking, He our comfort helps our souls. We have a friend in Jesus. And as Octavius Winslow notes in his work The Sympathy of Christ, Jesus is a friend who is near to us in the valley of tears, “not crushing, but sustaining, not repelling but sanctifying [our] infirmities, feebleness, and sorrow.”1 He is a friend who sighs with us and weeps with us. His mighty hands are there to hold us up when we feel we can go no further. Referencing Dale Ralph Davis, the encouraging thing is that the hands that embrace us have nail marks in them.2

Our circumstances may be hard, and our temptations are perhaps strong. Yet we must not put up the white flag. We are to keep fighting the good fight. How? By meditating on our loving Savior, who endured hostility and died to make the foulest clean. We persevere by thinking on Christ, and how He absorbed our curse. As we run the race from this life to the next, we must draft behind Jesus. What are the benefits of drafting in a marathon? Following behind someone allows for strength to be gained and encouragement to be had. That is even more the case with Jesus. If our eyes are on our troubles, weariness will soon overtake us. If our sights are on our Savior, we will have the stamina to press ahead and the joy to keep going.


  1. Octavius Winslow, The Sympathy of Christ (Harrisonburg, Va.: Sprinkle, 1994) 186–87.
  2. Dale Ralph Davis made this comment in an email written to his grandson, who was suffering from a physical affliction.

Reformation Women: Katharina Schutz Zell

How to Avoid Living a Fragmented Life