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. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:3–6, ESV
I love to read systematic theology and biblical theology books. But one of the most interesting ways that I have found to read theology is through the biographies of historical figures who wrestled with theological topics. There is something special about walking alongside the saints of old as they wrestled with theological truth in their particular situations. Biographies remind me that the theology I study was often worked out in conflict as men and women gave even their lives for the doctrines they found in God’s Word.
Hebrews 12:3-6 reminds us that our theology of enduring faith, the subject of chapters 10 and 11, is a truth to be worked out in conflict. When the author tells us that we need to “not grow weary or fainthearted” because we “have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood,” he is not calling us to a life of faith lived out in comfort and ease. After what he has just written in Hebrews 11:32-40 about martyred saints, it is clear that the possibility of bloodshed in this life of faith is real.
Quoting Proverbs 3:11-12, the author reminds us that this suffering is a way God works in the lives of those He loves. He tests their faith, even punishing them when they fail, and, in doing so, builds them up in that same faith. The life of faith may be hard, but it is not a life lived outside the sovereign hand of a loving God. For this reason, we are better off when we suffer for our faith.
Does this seem a little too abstract? It is not surprising. The American church has for some time been “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). This is to our shame. It is time to end our pursuit of comfort and lean hard into a life faithfully devoted to Christ. Such a life will not bring us ease in a fallen world. Indeed, it should not. But it will strengthen our faith and bring us great joy and rest in the Lord.
Maybe it would help you to spend some time with a good Christian biography and observe how the saints who went before us endured. These are a few of my favorites:
May God grant us all endurance in faith!