In times of uncertainty, I am always encouraged when I go back and look at ALL the Lord has done, not just in my life but in generations past! To remind me of His faithfulness in EVERY situation and that though there is a lot unknown to me, nothing is unknown to Him. And I think we can all agree - these are definitely uncertain times!! One of these powerful reminders is found in Hebrews Chapter 11. In this chapter known as the Faith Chapter, you’ll be reminded how BY FAITH Abel brought God a better offering than Cain. BY FAITH Enoch was taken from this life. BY FAITH Noah built an ark to save his family. BY FAITH, Sarah was enabled to have a child, even though she was long past childbearing years. And y’all the list goes on! Hebrews 11 is so powerful and is an encouragement to us all. But have you ever noticed what is said at the end of this chapter just after all of these BY FAITH, victorious, “power” moments??
Let’s take a look at Hebrews 11: 35-38.
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted tormented - of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”
Ummmm...didn’t we just start all of this by saying Hebrews 11 was the Faith Chapter? Didn’t we just celebrate all of the victories brought to God’s people BY FAITH?? After we get all fired up about God’s goodness and faithfulness we are hit square in the face by these bleak and brutal moments of struggle. How is that possible? How can this passage of struggle fit into a chapter meant to build and encourage our faith?
Friends, though I have never been mocked or scourged, or imprisoned in chains physically, I have definitely felt like I have been in that place spiritually. Those times when I worshipped, prayed, believed BY FAITH for my sisters healing and yet the reports kept coming back worse than before. Those times when I felt lost and dry and hurting and was doing all I could to worship, pray, and believe BY FAITH that God is who He says He is and still come out the other side seeing others receive a victory while my journey led me down a path of brokenness and sorrow. Through the ups and downs of my life and the lives of those who have gone before I have learned with unrelenting confidence that though the trials of this broken and fallen world are not easy, the Lord uses them to strengthen and deepen our faith, hope, and trust in Him! When Life is good and we can see the Lord’s faithfulness all around AND when the situations seem bleak and the struggles are mounting, the Lord is our constant through it all! It is in these BY FAITH moments that we discover a new level of faith that we didn’t even know existed. A deepening in our dependence on HIM and ONLY HIM that we never could have thought possible. A nearness that can’t be described in our limited words.
Though there aren’t proper words to describe the beauty in the closeness we find in our brokenness, I think Dallas Willard says it best in his book Life Without Lack:
“Even severe fears can be faced when we are confident in the strength and generosity of God - and in the fact that his kingdom isn’t shaken, and he is not undone by these things...Let the worst happen! Let the worst happen, and God and I will go on together in the abundance of His being.”
So I encourage you, as we are surrounded in this season of isolation with so much loss! Loss of jobs. Loss of life. Even the simple loss of social interaction. Let us dig our heels in and stand firm on the goodness of God! Let us build a faith amidst the trials that says “Let the worst happen!” Let us cry out like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say “Surely the Lord will deliver us but EVEN IF HE DOESN’T”! Let us live a life that declares in the best and the worst, the highs and the lows, “...God and I will go on together in the abundance of His being.”
For my readers out there, I HIGHLY recommend the book I referenced “Life Without Lake” by Dallas Willard. It is a phenomenal book that I know will bless your heart! CLICK HERE to purchase.