LIFT UP AND STRAIGHTEN
Hebrews 12:12-13 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
Wherefore, that is, in view of the fact that God's chastisement is joyous, and not grievous, all people that submit to His correction, have their loads of life lifted (See Heb. 12:11). They that are grieved and forlorn; they that are anxious and afraid; they that are downtrodden and oppressed; they that have been disgraced and shamed; they that have suffered defeat in any measure; they all express their misfortune and adversity in a physical way. They are sad-faced, downcast, and express very little ambition. And, as the lesson text states, they have hands which hang down, and feeble knees. Those that are dejected, for whatever reason, are easily recognized in the crowds of people that surround us every day.
Either physical or mental exhaustion will result in arms and legs that droop due to weariness; strength escapes from the hands and they hang down; unsteadiness of tired legs cause the knees tremble. The tribulations and temptations of life, if allowed to, will destroy the courage, and drain the strength, of every Christian. Becoming, and remaining, a child of God, in the society in which we live, is not a "bed of roses" - it is not a "primrose path" in which Christians follow. Why? Because of the influence and works of Satan through children of the world that have given in to his earthly passions of sin.
Throughout God's holy word we are assured that life will be filled with trials. Verses preceding the lesson text confirm this truth. The afflictions of life, although placed before mankind by Satan, are used by God as tests for all Christians. Just as Job was allowed to be tested by the trials and temptations of Satan, so is every Christian. Regarding this, notice this teaching: Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees (Job 4:3-4). Strength to overcome every distressing thing life has to offer is found in God.
In the New Testament era, the strength to overcome the difficulties of life is available to all that have been baptized into the body of Christ. In Philippians 4:13 the Christian is assured that I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the apostle, Paul, gave Christians everywhere this assurance: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Paul also said that, in overcoming the trials and temptations of life, he is made strong instead of weak (See 2 Cor. 8-10). To do so, God gives us this encouragement: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. This strength is necessary in order to successfully run with patience the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1).
The lesson text continues by saying, and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Again reference is made to the race of life referred to in the first verse of this chapter. On a personal note, I was told by my mother that wherever I went to "watch where you are going." On too many instances I failed to understand and take her advice. The same thought is found in the wisdom of Solomon. In our travels of life, he gave us this advice: fix your eyes on what lies ahead. He then told us to ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil (See Prov. 4:25-27).
We are assured that the path to heaven is narrow, but it is also straight. Satan has placed many side roads and detours before us; there are many sensual allurements that he has devised to lure Christians away from the straight and narrow road to eternal salvation. The lesson text is our warning to keep on the straight path. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Luke tells us of the mission of John the baptizer. It was his mission to Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight (Luke 3:4). The same straight path that our Savior traveled is assured to all Christian followers. With Jesus Christ as our guide, Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:5-6). God has given us the strength to be lifted up, and has laid before every Christian a straight, although narrow, path into heaven. He has assured all Christians that they can overcome Satan, win life's race, and gain eternal life in heaven.