Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
These verses at the start of Hebrews 12 follow the listing in chapter 11 of those who lived by faith. The one thing uniting them was that they believed in the promise God had made to them, even when they could not see the answer. For most of them the answer did not even come in their lifetime.
The analogy being used is of an athlete running a race. The imagery is of lightening the load, so that we are not hindered or entangled in the race God has ‘… marked out for us’. Isn’t it encouraging that it is not our race and that it is God who has marked it out for us.
Notice also the imagery used in the words ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus …’ Think of an athlete running a race and straining towards the finishing line, not being distracted by what is behind, but eyes fixed on the tape. Encouragement comes from many things; from those who have run the race before us, those who are running with us and also the end result.
Therefore, lighten the load, keep running the race and do not grow weary and lose heart.