To “grin and bear it” is to endure something unpleasant with good humour. To “joyfully accept” something we usually associate with someone receiving something of great value and benefit. The image of a celebrity receiving an award of honour or recognition comes to mind (as in the google image search result above). In Hebrews 10, the writer does something unexpected as he associates “joyfully accepted” with adverse circumstances!
Thus far in our study of the book of Hebrews we’ve just been vaguely talking about how the book was written to 1st century Jewish Christians who were facing persecution. But we haven’t mentioned what those specific circumstances were. That’s because we’ve been holding back to let the author explicitly state that himself! But we’ve had to hold off until chapter 10. We have arrived. Verses 33 and 34 state: “Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property“. They joyfully accepted their circumstances! How is that possible?! We’d be screaming and yelling that our rights have been violated. We’d arm ourselves to defend our property. So what made them respond differently than we would? The writer goes on to say they joyfully accepted it ” because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (v.34). They recognized that God was in control of even that situation and thus responded with joy. Their biblical worldview reminded them that the things seen are temporary, but their unseen future inheritance would be eternal (2 Cor.4:18)! How many of us truly believe this? How many of us have had our minds transformed to the degree that we can respond in such circumstances with joy, allowing the truth of our future to dramatically impact our lives now? May the challenge of the example of the original readers move us on to maturity.
That later truth of Paul (2 Cor.4) was a reflection of Jesus’ earlier teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:19-21 says:”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“. The readers of Hebrews clearly had learned that simple lesson early in their Christian experience. The author credits them with that and reminds them of their history. By recognizing what they possessed in Christ, by setting their hearts on THAT reality, the devastating loss of their property and even their freedom was not such a hard blow to bear. However, as time passed the pressure of persecution was wearing them down. When we are worn out, sometimes the breathe of fresh air we need is the encouragement of being reminded of our faithfulness in the past. And so, if you are weary in your faith, may you be encouraged to stay the course for great will be your reward!