Have you read Hebrews 11 recently? I’m unsure how many times I have read it since 1979 but I still find it extremely challenging, sobering and encouraging. (I’m not going to quote from it, I’m just assuming you will read it!)
God easily does amazing things through normal people. No one is exempt, and as John Wimber used to say, “everyone gets to play.” We’re purpose-built by God for acts of faith that manifest the glory, presence, nearness and kindness of God. The characters there are all commended for their faith, but all of them share the same weaknesses as us.
Our problem comes with our preoccupation with labeling people, in this case some bibles title Hebrews 11 as “the heroes of the faith.” The reality is, that all of God’s people are meant to be living in and by faith. There are no outsiders: these names in Hebrews 11 represent very real people, in a very real world, with very real problems and concerns who recognized something very important about God’s role in their life; that He was there to save the day!
Their story becomes our history as the scriptures ‘group hug’ them and commended for their faith
They faced reality with stubborn hope in God and faith that God would help. They were painfully aware of what could happen if God didn’t show up or help them when they needed Him — they might end up losing everything, including their lives. We know their stories, hold our breath as their story becomes our history as the scriptures ‘group hug’ them and commended for their faith; regardless of the outcome they still held His promises steadfastly true, trusting that God would do whatever it takes to turn things around for them.
God can make a difference and light can shine in the darkness of any hopelessness before us.
With just a quick glance, the whole chapter can be summed up in two words; “by faith.” and it is faith that unites us with these great men and women of the past, and even of the New Testament. These acts of faith, wherever they are found, even in this day and age, are accompanied by stubborn hope. Things can change, we can have breakthroughs, God can make a difference and light can shine in the darkness of any hopelessness before us.
Hebrews 11 people had a conviction that God would help them overcome any obstacles, and their determination was so powerful, in fact, that God used it to be an example for what we should do during hard times. Even pandemic times of lockdown and restrictions. No matter how tough things get, settle on for a stubborn hope in God, never give up your walk of faith. Cling to faith in God not just during times of exuberant prosperity, but in trying challenging times as well. God is a God of miracles, of breakthroughs and intervention.
God inspires that resilient hope in our heart by the work of His Spirit.
That all said, what’s the issue for us? What do we do with the issues that confront us? In simple terms there are two fundamental attitudes toward life and its sorrows. The first is to blame the world, people, and lack of resources or opportunity. The second is those who ask what they could do differently and come to the conclusion that they need God’s help — an answer to prayer — or an intervention. That’s where that stubborn hope in God comes in; faith that God will hear and answer prayer. God is not the God of the last minute. He’s the God of the right minute! His timing and His works are perfect. Strong-willed, stubborn hope and faith in God is not easy. It takes persistence, patience. God inspires that resilient hope in our heart by the work of His Spirit.
In all of this, I am not talking about the biblical hope that we have in Christ – I am talking of the hope that is like the thin skin that goes around a clove of garlic; inseparable at first. One goes with the other. It is like the grit and determination when Jacob wrestles with the angel in the dark night until the break of day and then God says to him, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Jacob got his blessing. You can get yours. Faith and stubborn hope!