Written By Eunice Rodríguez Pérez, Canary Islands, Spain
One of my neighbors—a middle-aged woman—was diagnosed with pneumonia. She had been smoking for half of her life, puffing on more than a pack of cigarettes a day. You could see her at almost all times of the day standing on her balcony, enveloped in a cloud of smoke.
Her doctor told her that it’s important and necessary for her to give up smoking that very instant. Otherwise, her disease could worsen dramatically. She could develop lung cancer and her life would end in a matter of months. My neighbor knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to stop smoking and completely change her lifestyle—but she understood that her existence depended on that decision.
Similarly, all of us are enveloped by a “cloud of smoke” that the naked eye cannot see. It harms us—not only externally, but to the very depths of our souls and minds. Hebrews 12:1 gives us the imperative command to withdraw from our pernicious lifestyle—to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.” This includes the way we think and act, which Psalm 36:3 describes: “The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.”
The Bible’s diagnosis of our condition is dire. We are “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But let us not despair and lose hope for there is a cure for our seemingly hopeless condition. The gospel itself is the sole and complete remedy. Through faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead to deliver us from our sins and eternal condemnation, we can be restored from the inside out. Only faith in Jesus Christ can heal the sick; only faith in Jesus Christ can bring the dead to life.
The decision to believe in the name of Jesus is ours to make. It will be a long race, following the Lord’s steps, fixing our eyes on the name above all names until we reach the finish line. But we can be sure that through all the persecution and troubles we’ll experience, Jesus will remain close to us. He not only gives eternal and secure salvation, He also provides His unconditional love as we walk along this path. God’s grace and mercy are definitely boundless!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” —Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)