I’ve got to be honest – I don’t understand faith. I’m confused by faith’s various aspects. For example, if I ask in faith I’ll receive what I ask for. The notion that people who meet certain conditions can ask and God will give them what they desire, seems to have support in scripture (Matthew 7.7-11; John 15.7-8). Whole ministries and movements have been built on the premise that if you say the right word in the right way, God will do what you ask. Yet, thousands of the faithful would disagree. Faith is not getting what we want but persevering no matter what.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
There are many people highlighted in Hebrews 11, often called “the faith chapter,” who experienced incredible acts of God – kingdoms conquered, promises obtained, fires quenched, murders avoided, feebleness empowered, armies defeated, and dead resurrected.
A Different Kind of Faith
Yet on the same list are those who were sustained by the same powerful work of God whose end doesn’t fit the usual “faith” pattern. Look what these men and women endured with a tenacious faith.
They gladly received:
- torture not wanting it to stop
- mocking and whippings
- shackles and imprisonment
- death by pelting rocks
- being sawed in half
- death by a sword
- having to dress in animal skins
- being impoverished
- being wronged, beaten down, tormented
- being homeless wanderers, dwelling in hard and isolated places
These people with monumental faith were the poor homeless abused who didn’t know if they were going to live another day. These are steller examples of faith? We assume the people with great faith live well, are successful, have a special way of getting things from God, and have few problems.
That’s why it is said of these people, “the world was not worthy of them.” These people have a faith that is “other-worldly.” It runs counter to what the world calls faith. It’s a foreign faith. These tortured, beaten, poor, wandering, “facing-death” people live a faith so noble and true that it could only come from the Triune God Who exists in faith. Remaining faithful in such harsh conditions demonstrates a deep, abiding life in God.
This kind of faith really gets my attention because I lack it. If I lived in union with Him more deeply then I’d experience faith more deeply. It always comes back to a lack of abiding in Him.
So I wonder how modern Christians deal with a faith that doesn’t result in answered prayer or in problems being solved.
When persecution comes, will we fold like cheap paper?
Will we be humbled by our lack of real faith instead of being proud of our puny faith?
Will we re-evaluate our understanding of real faith? Will we admit that we don’t understand faith and struggle to live it?
Will we be motivated to live an “other-world” faith, abiding in God, even when it means being treated harshly by others?
Those that have lived this kind of faith are with you right now. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses made up of these martyrs and faith-dwellers who help you. You can lay aside your burden of sin and walk the journey of endurance with this team while keeping your eyes on Jesus. He’s the Foundation and the Perfecter of the faith you have. (Hebrews 12.1-2)
If you keep moving forward in faith, how can you lose? With this holy squad urging you on and giving you what you need to persevere, you can be faithful on the journey no matter the results.
How are you struggling with faith today? Share your thoughts below.