THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, March 26th
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Hebrews 4:14 (NRSV)
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who has promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (NRSV)
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going…”*
This well-known expression has been said during challenging times to inspire and encourage people to keep trying, to not give up, and to remain tough. At the time this letter to the Hebrew people was written, Jewish Christians were being badly persecuted for their faith; the going WAS incredibly tough. But instead of imploring them to remain tough and keep up the fight, here the writer encourages the Hebrews to hold fast to their confession.
In fact, earlier in chapter 4, he is calling the people to keep the practice of sabbath rest – to cease from their labors and enter into the rest of God. He reminds them that the practice of sabbath rest is a sample of the eternal rest in the goodness of God they will enjoy one day. These are great words of comfort and hope for those who were facing hardship, persecution, and even death because of their faith.
When do we need to hold fast to our confession? I find it easy to confess my faith through my written or spoken words when life is good, when I am among like-minded people, when blessings abound. But if trials come, or my faith and integrity are challenged, or if I were to be criticized or threatened (as the Hebrews were), I need to hold fast to that confession. I must cling to my faith as my stronghold and rest in the goodness of God.
Imagine ourselves floundering in a sea of trouble. We may thrash, yell, swim, tread water, fall below the surface, gulp for air, struggle, become exhausted. Jesus offers us his life-saving help, reaching out and calling us to take his hand. As soon as we take hold, we can stop floundering and rest. We allow Jesus to pull us closer, out of the waters, into his arms. Every morning during a particularly difficult time in my life, I sat on the edge of my bed, held out my hand, and asked Jesus to hold it and go with me through the day. That ‘holding fast’ helped me to cope and to hope.
If we read on in chapter 4, we are assured that we can come with boldness to the One who has ‘passed through the heavens’ and has experienced and endured as much or more than we ever will. We can rest in the One who sympathizes with our weaknesses and showers upon us mercy and grace to help in (our) time of need. Christ Jesus knows and understands our struggles very well. And he reaches out his hand and invites us to hold it fast.
May we hold fast to our confession of everything we know of Jesus and need of him – especially our love for him, and his for us. He who has promised is faithful. In him, we have our stronghold for every trial.
There will be a daily devotional for all of Holy Week. Our reading for Palm Sunday will be Luke 19:35-42.
*The original quote has been attributed to several people, including John F. Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy, and Knute Rockne.
Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com