I have heard many sermons about faith, and Hebrews 11 is the book and chapter that often is quoted. We read that, by faith, men and women of God accomplished mighty feats and stood firm during the most horrific of trials. Some saw the dead rise, whereas others chose to be tortured, rather than deny their Lord and Saviour. The list of heroines and heroes of faith is long, and by the time the writer gets to the end of his list, you almost want to give them all a standing ovation.
They certainly would be worthy of it, because faith was not an intellectual concept to them but a living reality. In Hebrews 12, we read that these men and women are a crowd of witnesses, surrounding us and egging us on in our own faith journeys. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, as they did, and throwing off every weight that slows us down, we are exhorted to ‘run with endurance the race God has set before us’ (Hebrews 12:2). Like them, we too are called to live a life of faith.
We are even told that, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Then, because we so desperately want to please Him, we tentatively exercise our ‘faith muscles’, and dare to trust Him in areas we are powerless to change on our own (Hebrews 10:6). Sometimes God answers in the ways we expected, and we rejoice. Other times the breakthrough is a long time in coming, so we hold on and hold on, making our faith declarations and pushing through the doubt and unbelief.
We remind ourselves that our God is the God of impossibilities. The God who was with Abraham, Moses, King David, Ruth and Sarah, is also our God. He proved Himself strong on their behalf, so we wait for Him to prove Himself strong on our behalf too. We want so much to be men and women of faith. I believe that God applauds our heart’s desire and cheers us on in our race. He does this even when we start our faith journeys with expectation and vigour but finish them by barely crawling over the finishing line. The fact is that we stayed in the race.
I have heard it said that ‘faith’ is spelt R.I.S.K. and that is a challenging statement. I was given a different perspective the other day that came as quite a surprise to me. ‘Faith’ can also be spelt R.E.S.T. To rest means to cease from your struggling and striving and allow God to be God on your behalf. It takes courage to ‘rest’ when you are surrounded by enemies, in all their forms, yet this is sometimes what God requires of us.
He required this of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:17, when he was surrounded by a massive army. A prophet brought the word of the Lord to the people of Judah and Jerusalem and told them, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them … but you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17). God was telling Jehoshaphat and his people not to ‘risk’ but to ‘rest’, and trust that He would fight for them. This is exactly what happened, and the armies of Israel returned to Jerusalem proclaiming victory.
I wonder what faith challenges you are experiencing right now. Is God asking you to ‘risk’ or to ‘rest’, trusting that He has it all in hand. But however He leads you, follow.
Prayer: Father God, I want to be known as a person of faith like those mentioned in Hebrews 11. Thank You that You applaud my desire, even though sometimes I stumble and become discouraged, or are distracted during the race. Help me to know when You are asking me to take a ‘risk’ in faith and when You are asking me to simply ‘rest’ and wait. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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