After addressing our lives as a struggle between wrestling and resting, the author of Hebrews reinforces the fact that even in our wrestling in life we can find rest as sons and daughters of the living God. Hebrews 12:4-5a says, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?” The first point to look at in this passage is the fact that things could be worse. Jesus went all the way to death, “even death on the cross.” We haven’t been called to go that far. Second, regardless of how far we’ve suffered it must be held firmly in mind and strongly believed that God always works things out for our best because he loves us and truly cares about us regardless of the situations we find ourselves in. We are his beloved children. We can trust God in our pain.

The first point is that things could be worse. I like to imagine the worst-case scenario of any situation I’m in and tell God “if that is your will for me, that is alright with me.” We can find rest even in our struggles, pain, and failures in life with that approach. We just need to continue to look to Jesus in faith and trust the hardship we’re enduring and its outcome to God. He promises “all things work together for good, to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). The times I’ve looked at the worst possible ending of a particular problem and told God whatever He wanted for me would be just fine with me, it usually never reached the worst possible state. I’ve never had to resist to the point of shedding blood. But leaving the results to God and resting in His proven love is surely a place of peace and rest.

Next, we are encouraged to hang onto the truth of the fact that we are children. We’re not slaves or animals or possessions, we’re His children. He loves us and truly cares about our well-being. Having given up their religion and all its accouterments as discussed early in the book, the readers of Hebrews had lost family, friends, probably livelihoods and have even been cast out of their homes. J. Vernon McGee observes, “Their only resource was Christ – not a temple, or a ritual, or a religion. They were almost outcasts at this time, and the writer is telling them not to forget this exhortation from God to His children.”[1] In Psalm 103 we read, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” The first part of this passage, trusting God and accepting His will for our lives, is what it means to fear Him. When we rest in His hands regardless of our situation, He takes over! And His will is always good for His children.

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (Hebrews 8-13), electronic ed., vol. 52 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 118.