Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab…these are just a few of the heroes of faith who are named in Hebrews chapter 11, also known as the Faith Chapter. On Wednesday nights, we have been reading and discussing the book of Hebrews, a book of encouragement for those who are growing weary in their faith. Throughout the book, we often find reminders of why our faith in Christ is important and how Jesus makes a difference. In chapter 11, a litany of examples are given to remind us that we are not alone when we face challenges on our journey of faith. So many have gone before us, living out their faith, even when they were uncertain of the outcome.
The author of Hebrews defines faith as “the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). Later in chapter 11, we find additional mentions of this “unseen” aspect of faith. In verse 13, we read, “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” In verse 39, we read “Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised.”
These heroes of our faith lived by faith – they made decisions, commitments, and sacrifices based on God’s promises for the future. They believed in promises they had not yet seen fulfilled. They hoped for blessings they had never before experienced and must have found difficult to imagine. Sometimes they suffered and did not know if they would make it. Yet through faith, they persevered. This is what it means to live by faith – to trust in God’s promises even when we have not yet seen them fulfilled.
The uncertainties of the past year and a half have been challenging in so many ways – to individuals, to families, and to churches. We have had to do things we had not done before and hope for blessings that were difficult to imagine. Yet as people of faith, we do have a precedent for such unprecedented times. God’s people have always been called upon to have faith when we cannot see the outcome.
If you are growing weary in these challenging times, read Hebrews chapter 11. Even when we cannot see the outcome, even when the future is uncertain, may we persevere with faith. Through faith in Christ, we too are called to make decisions, commitments, and sacrifices based on faith that God’s promises will be fulfilled, even when things feel uncertain and tumultuous in the moment. Through faith in Christ, we have hope for a future we cannot see.
Pastor Jennifer Rygg
July 20, 2021