Have you ever been scared by a scripture? I have. Maybe you’ve been there, too. Let’s face it, there are lots of “texts of terror” in the Good Book. How do you shake hands with a Bible passage that ordinarily gives you the willies?
I’m thinking of Hebrews 10:35-39 which terrorized my Christian youth. This scary scripture begins with “don’t cast away your confidence” and ends with “if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:35-38
I felt like the original Shrinking Man in those days—wilting under pressure, riddled with countless fears. If that’s what your insides are like, how do you avoid giving God “no pleasure”? This really bedeviled me. But I finally solved the riddle. I’ll tell you how, if you stay with me to get there…
Hold on to Hope, No Matter What
Let’s begin with the scripture warning not to “cast away your confidence.” Countless scriptures speak against giving up when the chips are down. We evidently have “need of endurance” (vs 36), because many situations of trouble or temptation are evidently coming our way. These are practically guaranteed to wear down our confidence. Nevertheless, even if your hope in God gets reduced to a scrappy little thing, don’t throw it away!
Now notice that endurance has a “great reward” (vs 36). In the short-term, it means a return of peace and steady forward movement on your path of life. In the mid-term, it means a growing track record of seeing God back you up. And in the long-term, it means getting you to heaven, the ultimate reward. Jesus said that those who “persevere to the end” will be saved—not those who quit along the way. We must learn to endure in order to receive these promises!
The great problem for us is that times of endurance are times when our confidence is being ground down and our weaknesses are bubbling up. Such a trial of faith is intended by our loving Father to bring the dross (garbage) to the surface so it can be removed. However, this is rarely, if ever, pleasant to experience. So, we have to really fight to hold ourselves steady by clinging to and calling on the Lord.
The Heroic Virtue of Hanging On
I don’t know about you, but when I’m reduced to “hanging in there,” I don’t feel like much of a recommendation. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to ask about the hope that is in me, and frankly, I’m hoping they won’t. These are the times when it is hard to believe that God can love us, let alone delight in us, because our worst weaknesses are usually on display. We feel crummy and look shabby (spiritually speaking).
But get this: God says that the one He cannot delight in is the one who “shrinks back” or quits under pressure, not the one who looks shabby on the inside. He still loves the one who gives up (He loves even the ones going to hell). However, He has no delight in what they are doing, since they are ruining their own life by giving up. Certainly, the Lord can “take no pleasure” in us (vs 38) when we turn from Him by giving up on the challenge of trying to live our life the right way. Just make sure that’s not you!
In your dark or difficult times, as long as you’re calling on Him and clinging to Him, hoping to find His way forward, He can work with you. He WILL work with you. Even better, He takes delight in you. Yes! We actually give Him pleasure when we choose to “hang in there” with Him, crucified with Christ. We may be making no visible progress, but we’re refusing to let go. He loves that kind of loyalty!
Stay in the Game!
Just don’t turn your back on Him and run, or give up on Him and surrender to the enemy instead. If you hang in there, you can be confident that your Captain is pleased as punch to have you on His team, even if your ground game is pitiful. And He will definitely send in the relief troops (eventually).
This is important because the “head game” that the enemy plays is to use our weaknesses and failures to make us think that God can’t be pleased with us. That’s a lie! If you believe it, you will start losing your joy and your courage, because “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” So, if you want to give your God pleasure, just don’t quit!
To help you keep slugging it out, hanging in there, even when you feel hung out to dry, please get your free download, “No Matter What Happens!” It will show you ways to stay fired up when you’re under fire.