Athletic contests were popular in New Testament times, so it makes sense that the writer of Hebrews likened the Christian life to a race. Following Christ isn’t a short sprint but a marathon with many obstacles, hardships, and unexpected turns.
To encourage us on the course we’re running, God has given us a “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). These are saints from the past who faithfully walked with Him through all the trials and challenges of life (Heb. 11:4-38). Their examples inspire us to trust the Lord and obey Him no matter how difficult and confusing the hurdles in our path may be.
We are also urged us to “rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us” (Heb. 12:1). If we’re going to be sustained throughout the race, we must honestly examine our life for anything that might prevent us from knowing the Lord and following Him. It could be habitual sin, an idol, worldly distractions, or false teaching that we’ve accepted as true.
And, of course, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate example of faithful endurance: He suffered for us on the cross so that we could be with Him forever.