Hebrews 12:1-13, Romans 12:18-21, 1 Timothy 2:5-6
The Beverly Hillbillies was a 1960s sitcom about the Clampett family: a poor, backwoods family who lived in the Ozark mountains. While out hunting for dinner, family patriarch, Jed Clampett, fires his rifle at an animal and accidentally strikes oil. That oil comes bubbling up from the ground, and they realize their property is an oil field. So overnight, they go from dirt-poor to filthy rich, their wealth literally pouring out from the dirt. And then the rest of the series is about these backwoods hillbillies moving to luxurious Beverly Hills and being totally out of place there.
Now, some prosperity gospel, health-and-wealth preachers might say this is the normal Christian life. If you’re dirt poor, just have faith, keep believing, support their ministry, and eventually you’ll strike it rich—God will give you all the money and stuff you could ever want. But that’s not Jesus’s story as told in our passage today. Hebrews 12 is a reminder that Jesus Himself suffered, and it is a call to endure the hardship, struggle, and discipline that will surely come when we follow Him.
Jesus would have been the worst prosperity preacher of all time: He left the riches of heaven to enter the poverty of this world. Being determined to do His Father’s will all the way to the cross meant He had few friends, no permanent home, and a ministry that went from thousands of cheering admirers to even His closest friends abandoning Him in His hour of greatest need. No, Jesus preaches a different kind of health and wealth. He promises not physical riches, but spiritual ones—eternal ones.
The gospel is not a promise of a full bank account; it’s a promise of heavenly riches even in earthly poverty. It’s a promise of life even in the face of death. Like Jesus, we are called to look suffering in the face and endure it with joy. In Him, we don’t merely survive suffering, we overcome it.
The truth is, we’re all spiritual Clampetts. We’re dirt-poor misfits who become filthy rich: our riches come up from the dirt of death to the abundance of resurrection life. Our residence in God’s Kingdom may seem as unlikely as hillbillies in Beverly Hills, but our citizenship and inheritance have been secured by Christ (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:3-4).
Hear the good news today: our suffering is no surprise to God, and in His kindness it is not wasted. He refines us in love, “so that we can share his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). In our struggle, we can look to Jesus, who endured the cross and sent us the Holy Spirit to strengthen our weak hands and wobbly knees. May our own endurance be for His glory.
Written by Brandon D. Smith