Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 (NRSV)
I remember stumbling onto this verse. It was as though it had suddenly appeared in the classic chapter on faith. As a child, I had been drilled on the chapter’s first verse: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” For years, I never quite understood this verse. I just had to memorize it. When I got older, I read this verse in the NIV translation: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” That made a little more sense, but I still had some struggle with understanding the verse.
Not until I read Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” did the whole idea about faith get my attention.
Having faith doesn’t mean that things are always going to go your way. Having faith, though, means that you have the inner strength and desire to go on, no matter what.
You see what you cannot see. You see what others cannot see or even perceive.
That sight gives an energy that is inexplicable yet powerful. It gives courage that others cannot understand. Sight makes one able to tread water when life’s difficulties seem overwhelming.
That’s what the author of Hebrews said: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The whole of this chapter makes sense if we understand that one point.
Having faith means that we see with different eyes – not human eyes. Human eyes have finite capacity but eyes of faith are infinite. Eyes of faith see something bigger than life, against all odds and prevailing opinions.
There was a woman who was very ill with complications from diabetes. She had been apparently fine one day and then the next day she fell critically ill to the point of death. She was in a coma and her vital signs were consistently getting worse. She was put on life support. Some of her children thought that she should be taken off life support and allowed to die peacefully. One of her children kept saying, NO. She will be all right. God has told me she will be all right. Her siblings scoffed and cast her aside as a hopeless religious romantic, but she held her ground.
Days passed. The woman appeared to be getting worse. Even the doctors were antsy for this case to go one way or the other. The daughter held fast because she could see what nobody else could.
After three agonizing weeks, something happened. The women awakened. She was taken off life support and began talking. She had been in the grip of death and now she was awake, talking and wanting to eat. Her condition improved daily and after about ten additional days she was released to go home.
The lone child merely said, ‘I knew it.’ I could see mom walking around. CRAZY FAITH.
Faith is not hoping beyond hope. Faith is knowing the One in whom you trust and moving and acting in a way that says you know. There is an assurance that what one knows will come to be. One doesn’t know how it will come to be. One just knows that it will be. That knowledge also inspires one to work toward what is ‘seen.’ Faith is not sitting and waiting. It is moving toward the unseen; it is working and planning for what you see and know.
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