“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings . . . Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:32–35).
THE HEBREW WRITER SAID THAT AFTER HIS READERS HAD BECOME CHRISTIANS THEY “ENDURED A GREAT STRUGGLE WITH SUFFERINGS.” But he encouraged them not to give up the great reward they were pursuing. “Do not cast away your confidence,” he said. The Hebrews needed to remember something we all need to remember: good things come at a price — and when the price begins to hurt, we have to recall the value of what we have gained.
Life is full of what we call “trade-offs.” A trade-off is the giving up of one advantage for another advantage of greater benefit. It is hard to imagine any significant gain in the real world where this kind of exchange does not have to be made. We do it all the time, understanding that there are very few blessings that don’t require sacrifice, very few pluses that don’t have some minuses.
The problem comes when the present moment begins to exert a powerful pull on us. I may have moved further outside the city for the benefit of my family, but when I’m caught in traffic during that two-hour commute, the frustration of that moment is all I can think of. It is easy to forget the plus for which I accepted that minus. “So I’ll just get a job in a small town,” I say. But that too will have its disadvantages. The fact is, everything has its price. You must decide which advantages you want the most, and what disadvantages you are willing to accept in order to obtain them.
As people who are reaching forward to heaven, let’s not “cast away [our] confidence, which has great reward.” When we’re in the midst of “a great struggle with sufferings,” we need to remember that there was a time when we counted the cost of discipleship and decided the advantages were worth the disadvantages. Now that the disadvantages are pressing upon us heavily, the thing to do is back up and remember the goodness of the advantage we gained. May we never devalue what we have purchased. Being found in Christ at the resurrection is worth whatever trade-off has to be made. In fact, it is worth a good deal more than that.
“Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ. There most certainly are” (A. W. Tozer).