We are living in unprecedented times. But so were many of those listed in Hebrews 11. I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning and I’m praying it will encourage you, as it has me. I believe now more than ever we must have faith. We must persist.
I don’t know about you, but at certain times I struggle with my faith. When things happen that I cannot explain or understand or, for instance, when a global pandemic turns everything upside down, faith comes hard for me. What do we do when life frightens or disappoints us? How can we have faith, how can we persist, in times like this?
A Pastor friend of mine in Louisville, Kentucky, taught me, when things happen that you don’t understand, simply lean into what you KNOW, not what you don’t know!
So, what do we know?
We know in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance…”
Stop! You know what hits me?! Faith is SOMETHING. Faith is a SUBSTANCE. I can see it. I can hold it. I can embrace it. I can choose it.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
A better translation might be, “the evidence of things not YET seen.” Oh, they’re happening; and it’s real. Maybe we don’t see it yet. But faith is more than we see! It is good for me to remember that.
As I look at Hebrews 11 and the real-life examples of faith lived out, that list of people can be intimidating! It’s a “Who’s who” of some of the biggest names in our “faith family tree”!
So… what do we know?
We know that people are people. Nothing more. Off camera they felt panic, doubt, fear (like so many people are feeling during this pandemic!) These were our kind of people. They were not sinless. They were not fearless… all the time! They were full of faith only when they chose to be! So, what does Hebrews 11 help us know about faith and persistence?
We know that Abel obeyed God, Enoch pleased God, and Noah built a boat. Abraham moved to a country with no forwarding address and Sarah believed God would give her a child though all logic told her this was laughable. Moses kept his eyes on the One who is invisible, and Rahab trusted God would use two young spies to save her family in the midst of outright war.
So, why are the Hebrews 11 people so significant for us
today? They simply demonstrate
d to us how
to believe God:
- Through obedience to what God said.
- Through faith in what they knew Him to be.
- Through choice. People who please God, do so by conscious choice!
When life did not match their expectations, the people of Hebrews 11 simply did what they knew. They fixed their eyes on the promises of God by faith, not their circumstances. But because they had faith that God was who He said He was, they chose to believe and obey.
So where do you get the resilience to keep going in desperate situations (like we are in today)? Faith. Rick Warren says this about faith:
“It’s believing God could do something at any moment that could change the direction of your life, and you don’t want to miss it, so you keep moving forward. It’s believing that God will give you exactly what you need when you need it as you learn to rely on him to accomplish his purpose in you.”
Back to Hebrews 11, what else do we know?
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to HIM must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
“All these people died still believing what God had promised them…” Hebrews 11:13
You see, persistent faith knows that God is able!
Think about this—we trust God as much as we choose to. Trusting Him a little or trusting Him a lot… it’s our choice! Faith-filled people are ordinary people… with determination!
Evangelist, there is still much work to be done. So, let’s lean into what we know. And I pray we have Hebrews 11 faith—persistent faith that doesn’t give up but presses on in desperate times!
For this is what we know…
“I know the ONE in whom I trust, and I am confident, sure, convinced that HE is ABLE to keep what I have entrusted to HIM!” 2 Timothy 1:12