For the Joy Set Before Him

man with woven hat smiling

Throughout our training course, students hear many stories from missionaries who have served long-term in some of the most challenging places on Earth, in people groups that were unreached for good reasons. Having heard all these accounts, they come to expect obstacles: harsh climates, debilitating illnesses, political opposition, bewildering languages, and perplexing cultures. It’s good to have realistic expectations, of course; they need to be aware of the gravity of the task ahead of them and prepared to “count the cost” before they go. The life of any ambassador of Christ will be characterized, at times, by suffering.

Against this backdrop, one of our themes for the year may at first seem a bit surprising: “For the joy set before Him.”

“…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

-NIV, Hebrews 12:1-2

In the context of persevering through hardships, the author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus Himself was able and willing to endure great suffering and humiliation on the cross—all because of joy. Although He knew that the cross would bring shame and great anguish, Jesus looked past the cross to that glorious future when people from every tribe, tongue and nation—redeemed by His great sacrifice—would assemble as one great throng before the throne and honour Him.

As His ambassadors, we look forward to that same joyful day. We have that same joy set before us! As we trust our Lord to fulfill all His promises, we can look past the hardships inherent in life and ministry and count it all joy. 

There will be hard seasons and it will take faith to count it all joy, but there will also be times when that joy is nearly uncontainable. Ask any church planter who has seen men, women and children grasp the beauty of the gospel for the first time. Ask any Bible translator who has had the privilege of presenting newly-printed Bibles to a group of believers who have never before had access to God’s Word in their language. Ask any of the training team here at Ethnos Canada who have seen our students graduate and leave for the field, eager to take the gospel to yet another people group. What a joy!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

-NIV, Romans 15:13