When life hits us hard, we can find encouragement by looking to Jesus and remembering the faithful saints who finished their journey before us. The writer of the Book of Hebrews reminds us of the many great heroes of faith who steadfastly braved their race, thereby leaving us a powerful example of perseverance. In fact, this great cloud of witnesses — all sitting in the grandstands of Heaven — are cheering us on today as we stay the course and traverse over rugged terrain with tenacity. Sports enthusiasts know that in football, when the crowd erupts in a thunderous roar, they are called the thirteenth man. Though there are usually only twelve players on the field, the sea of energetic fans is considered the extra teammate because they collectively provide the encouragement, motivation, and drive needed to finish the game strong. Much like these animated admirers influence a team’s athletic performance, as Christians, immersing ourselves in the stories of the Biblical heroes who cheer us on from above activates our faith and ignites our confidence, even as we face an uncertain future.
My friend, keep your eyes focused on you Savior, and when the going gets tough, remember that there is a thirteenth person cheering for you! While you will face trials of many kinds, you can be of good cheer because Jesus, who both began and finished the course you’re on, has conquered it. Look to Him whenever you need an extra measure of strength, and know that He will generously provide the grace you need to continue. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you are divinely empowered to run your race with guts, grit, and grace. May the audience cheering you on from Heaven give you the drive you need to persevere with passion and to pursue the victory that’s already laid out for you there!