Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses… Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience - And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets. Heb 12:1-2, James 5:10, Heb 11:32.

Sometimes it can seem to us that our suffering is unique, unlike anything anyone else has ever experienced by humanity. Or it may be that we feel we deserve a more reasonable break when it comes to having to endure "our reasonable share of trials." That's why I think that there are verses like the following:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy. Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 1Peter 4:12; 5:9

Why is the witness of others so important when it comes to running our race? For one thing it brings great comfort and release to us to know that we're not alone. How reassuring it is to recognize that someone else has indeed gone through what we are now going through.

One thing we can know is that the trials and persecutions that we experience are neither singular nor exceptional, but are general to the Body of Christ, and that from the beginning of time. Therefore, our text implores us; we are to look to this "great cloud of witnesses" that have run a successful race. And note, it is not just a handful of people, but a great number. And note equally, that also It is not the exception to have lived victoriously, but the norm, thus, "the great cloud of witnesses."

The "great cloud of witness" would have you and I recognize that what they suffered was just an ordinary part of their Christian existence. By no means had God neglected them or forsaken them. They would tell us from the personal walking out of their relationship with God Almighty that they could say with all certainty:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth: And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, Then without my flesh shall I see God; And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen
Rom 8:382Ti 1:12 Job 19:25,26; Romans 16:20

The testimony of this "great cloud of witnesses is living proof that if other brothers and sisters were able to bear up under their trials and afflictions, then we too should be able to do so as well. Indeed if God was capable to sustain those who have gone before us and who lived under much harsher conditions, and may I be so bold to say they did so with less of the graces that we are afforded today, then we can rest assure beyond any shadow of doubt that God likewise is sufficient to handle anything that He sends into our lives. Yes, we too just as they can live triumphant lives'.

It would therefore be in our best interest to file for future reference on the tablets of our hearts, the example of "others" who have gone before us and have run a successful race. In fact, the writer of this book would have us to understand that it our duty to be on the alert to such examples and then to emulate them. Yes, such brethren are worthy to be imitated and should be regarded as worthy examples to imitate. Paul said in 1Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Think with me for a moment. Can you imagine being one of the first sufferers? The first sufferers had a most difficult undertaking. Their trials must have seemed most strange and peculiar to them. They did not have the luxury of turning to the Scriptures to read, There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it {1Corinthians 10:13}. They did not have the understanding that we have today of a defeated enemy. The reason we can walk with such confidence and certainty is because of our faithful brethren, who literally did what we are commanded to do in this day and generation and that is to, "walk by faith and not by sight."

Yes you might even say that we believers have a secret weapon when it comes to running a successful race. There is no doubt that we have in these last times the best helps when it comes to subduing the enemy and laying aside every weight of sin that so easily besets us. That weapon again is the testimony and witness of others. And the LORD would remind you and I this very moment, that to whom much has been given, much will be required.

The matter of the fact is that many others have gone through what we are not facing and have come out the better for it. Satan, the thief and deceiver that He is would have us believe otherwise. It is certainly the witness of others that would have us know that it is not only expected but necessity that we go through testing and persecution.

Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. That no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you 2Tim 3:12,1Thess 3:3, Acts 8:18, 1Pe 5:10.

Perhaps you find yourself coming under opposition today. It should come as no surprise to you that as a member Christ Body the Church that that you have and will continue to experience antagonism and resistance. I'm just not talking from those without, that's predictable. No, I'm referring to those who claim to be fellow-heirs of the promises of God, those who have walked hand-and-hand with you, even those who have shared bread at your table, or recited sacred vows together. I say to you, be encouraged for such also has been the experience of those who have already gone before us.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God - Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you - Psa 41:9, 1Peter 2:20, Mt 5:11

I have said all of this so that you do not become discouraged should you happen to be walking through a difficult situations where there seems to be few answers. Understand this, that the trials you are currently experiencing, have already been embraced and triumphant t over by a fellow-believer. And what would be the witness of such a victorious one?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city {Hebrews 11:14-16}.

Yes, we should be encouraged to endure trials simply because our fellow-believers have suffered the same things. In fact, one day, and please, if you get anything out of this teaching, remember this, ONE DAY YOU WILL BECOME THE EXAMPLE that others will be looking to. All the more to persevere when faced with difficulty.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ - 2Corinthians 1:3-5.

When it comes to enduring suffering the Apostle Paul would give us this witness. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation 2 Corinthians 1:6.

In our next teaching we will consider just how this consolation work itself out in the lives of those who are undergoing hardships?


May God grant you His peace 
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Now I commend You Brethern To The Word Of His Grace That Is Able To Build You up And Give You An Inheritance Among The Saints Ac20:32