Recently, I watched a video of a man singing “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” in the middle of the United States Capitol rotunda. His smooth-textured voice boomed with a most profound truth for mankind: precious is the blood of Christ! Hearing the name of Jesus reverberate off the stone walls sweetly reminded me of the power and holiness in His name. I don’t know the man with the beautiful singing voice. I’m not familiar with his life, flaws, struggles, or victories; I only know what was captured in that moment when people stopped to listen.
It is the same with those we encounter, admire, or follow. In a moment when they are “on,” it can appear as if they have it all together, but we are unfamiliar with the day to day they contend with in their walks with the Lord. We can be assured that they are flawed, as we all have sinned and fallen short. But God, who is rich in mercy, has made a way. If we believe and surrender, we experience a most glorious intimacy with a holy God because of the precious, atoning blood of Christ.
Hebrews 11 reveals a lineup of heroes of the faith in their finest hours, though one can read the rest of the Bible to discover they faced their own struggles. They waded through incredible circumstances as God’s power went forth. They were ordinary, yet their stories and what God accomplished through them makes them appear larger than life.
On our end, their lives are narratives that are sentences long or perhaps flips of several pages long, but their faith journeys weren’t that simple or easy. At times there were decades of waiting, remaining on a very narrow path while trusting that God was good for His promises. They experienced weaknesses and failures. Yet, in spite of any tripping up along the way, the people of old received their commendation from God—that He deemed them utterly faithful.
God chose to leave their failures and struggles off this wall of fame. He only revealed their victories. We see them redeemed, holy, set apart, used by God. They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things, only because our great God is so extraordinary. He is the same God today as He was when the nation of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground.
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6)
While you probably aren’t being asked by God to build an ark, hide your son in the river, or prepare to lead a million people out of slavery, you have been called to be faithful, whatever that looks like in your life.
At some point, your faith will be greatly tested. Your faith may be strengthened through having a prodigal child or unbelieving spouse. Your health may be extremely compromised, your bank account may be in the negative, or you may ache for a child you are praying to conceive. Contention, relational struggles, job stress, sincere needs, unrelenting fear within a battle—whatever your circumstances, you are called to look to that which you do not see. By faith, you can keep praying for it and trusting that the God you do not see is at the helm and will never leave nor forsake.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)
By Faith We Hope
We hope by faith, not by sight, in what we cannot see—sometimes what we cannot even fathom. As ridiculous as it seemed to be building a boat for a coming flood, when there had been no rain ever, it seems impossible to imagine that the hardened heart that you’ve been praying for could become pliable to the Lord’s will. God asked Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moses, and so many others to trust Him in what He desired to accomplish in their lives, just as He desires for you to trust Him to accomplish His will in your life.
Consider the common denominators of those He lists in this chapter:
They had holy fear.
They had an awe, reverence, and respect for God, believing that His will, His abilities, and His authority is above all else. There were absolutely frightening situations they faced. But their legitimate human fears were trumped by an overpowering desire to please and obey God. When you want to cower, or are paralyzed with fear, invite the Lord into the situation—even into your doubts. Ask Him for a measure of faith. Ask others to pray for you as you navigate through difficult circumstances. Meditate on the truths of the unchanging, immeasurable characteristics of God. He is worthy to be praised, He is good, and His goodness flows forth to us, His children, even when we aren’t sure of His presence in our lives.
They looked to eternity.
Abraham’s tent stakes weren’t driven in too deeply. He was a stranger in a foreign land. Though he was looking forward to the land a nation that would come from his seed would inherit, ultimately, he was looking for the solid and permanent foundation of heaven. Whatever difficulties you are facing, they will one day cease. Even if your circumstances never change while you are upon this earth, one day you will enter into the Lord’s presence, where all woes and sorrow will be removed. This is not your home, so don’t be tempted to fret over what is temporal. God’s compassion reaches to you today. He is not a cruel or distant God who is holding out on you.
They were children of God, not of the world.
To make friends with the world is to be captivated and drawn in by all that can thwart the pursuit of God’s calling upon our lives. A desire to please God rather than man or self requires a continual, active devotion. Outside of his family, Noah saw no one that he witnessed to saved from the flood. That is a sobering thought to reflect upon. That every single other soul was lost. Imagine being at enmity with every other person around you outside of your immediate family. This was the case for Noah, yet he obeyed and watched as all others in the human race were destroyed. We are called to be in the world, living, partaking, and most importantly, being a light in the world, while not being consumed, infatuated, or fully influenced by it.
The world wasn’t worthy of them.
They suffered and they questioned, but they persevered. They ultimately trusted that God would work everything to their good and His glory. Our relationship with the world reveals much about our relationship with God. If you follow Christ, you will suffer. If you desire to please God, your faith will be greatly tested. It should not be a foreign concept to us to know and experience deep longings and sorrows. We are better able to identify with Christ in His sorrows as we become more intimate with our own sufferings.
They did not have faith in the faith.
It wasn’t faith itself they placed their hope in. They had faith in an omnipotent, omniscient God that draws us to Him as a father with a beloved child. Outside of God, we are helpless and unable to defend ourselves. We cannot trust our emotions, feelings, or circumstances to speak of who God is. We must look to Him who is the “I AM” in order to get the broad spectrum of truth. Our perspective will always be tainted, as it is seen through the eyes of sin, wounds, and experiences.
All the individuals listed in this chapter knew what it was to be disappointed, to be frustrated, to fail, and to blindly place their trust and hope in God. Like us, there were moments in their stories that they were neither appealing or even honest. But God speaks of their faithfulness as being commendable. It will be the same for us! We have been redeemed. Though our sins are many, we are found to be sinless because of the atoning blood of Christ.
Therefore, let us fully place our hope and our trust in a God who has, is, and forever will be found as faithful to His children. The name of Jesus will be echoing throughout the universe for eternity. There will be no need for a gifted voice to sing out, for all of creation, angels, and every soul that will reside with Him will be proclaiming the holiness of God in unison throughout time. If we place our hope and faith in the atoning blood of Christ, we will one day be found as those along the wall of faith—in the presence of Jesus.