“God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:40 (NKJV)
One reason that those mentioned in Hebrews 11 didn’t receive the promises is because God had something better for us and for them. Another part of the reason they didn’t receive the promise was because God didn’t want them to be made perfect apart from us. Now, the question is what does this all mean and refer to. The something better that made us all perfect was Jesus.
A part of the idea here is that the believer pushes through the pain because Jesus is enough. Think about the Apostle Paul and the pain he endured. From the Jews three times he was flogged with 39 lashes, three times beaten with rods, stoned once and left for dead, he was in three shipwrecks, during one he spent a day and a night floating in the water (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). What was it that motivated Paul to push through the pain and finish the race God had set before him? It was Jesus. For Paul, Jesus was enough. Let me show you this from Scripture.
“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” 2 Timothy 4:16-18 (NKJV)
Writing from a Roman prison Paul says that in the past the Lord had delivered him from the mouth of the lion and that the Lord would continue to deliver him from every evil work. Yet, he was beheaded shortly after this and never left a Roman prison. Here are the questions we have to wrestle with.
Was Paul wrong about Jesus going to deliver him?
Did Jesus fail to deliver him?
The answer to both questions is no. Paul wasn’t wrong and Jesus didn’t fail. We must realize that Jesus doesn’t always deliver us in the way that we think He should. He delivers us in the way that He knows is best and in the way that will bring Him the most glory. In this case Paul wasn’t delivered from the sword. Instead Paul was delivered by the sword.
When Paul was beheaded he was delivered from this life and all the hardships he had faced. He was no longer in prison. They couldn’t torture him anymore. Paul was at this point fully and completely delivered from his thorn in the flesh and from all the bad things that his enemies wanted to do to him. Now, here is the question about this. Did Paul feel cheated? Did Paul feel cheated because God let him die at the hands of the Romans? Well, if Paul’s earlier testimony is consistent with his latter testimony, then no.
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Philippians 1:21-23 (NKJV)
Despite his pain and death, Paul did not feel cheated because Jesus was better than everything else, even his own life. I’m convinced that this is the way it’s supposed to be for all believers. The hard question for us to answer is, is He? Is Jesus enough despite the pain that comes in the race He has set before us?
What if the race that Jesus has set before you…
…is a job that is harder than you ever expected and isn’t something you really like? If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
…leads to conflict that goes on longer than you thought it would? If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
… involves sickness that lingers? What if cancer suddenly shows up and it goes bad. If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
…involves suffering the pain that comes from the death of a loved one you prayed for God to spare? If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
What if you try as hard as you can and your marriage crumbles anyway? If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
What if things happen and you are financially ruined? What if you lose everything you have worked so hard to acquire? If that is the case will Jesus be enough?
There is a song called When We See Christ the chorus of the song says, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will erase. So bravely run the race, ‘til we see Christ.” As believers we are supposed to understand that Jesus is enough and push through the pain to finish the race set before us.
For further study read Philippians 3:4-10.
What things do verses 4-6 say Paul once thought were so important? What does verse 7 say he thought of those things now?
Why does verse 8 say Paul feels this way about these things?
What do you think would be included in “all things” from verse 8?
How does verse 10 show that Paul considered Jesus to be enough?