Hebrews 11 is called the Hall of Faith chapter because it contains a list of names and actions of Biblical heroes who believed in the promises of God. When I read that lineup, I feel insignificant and inadequate as a witness for God. Even as recent as this weekend was a reminder of my inability to seize the opportunity to bring the love of Christ to a hurting sister. I spent too much time trying to be smart.
For it has been my habit to commit myself to the study of mental health, diagnosing problems and recommending treatment. Others have noticed and have said that I am knowledgeable in this area. In my heart of hearts I must admit, however, that to depend on my paltry understanding of the complexity of the mind is foolish. I’ve learned to pay attention through observation and listening to how desperate, how hopeless, or how sad a person finds oneself. I’ve practiced skills and theoretical interventions and techniques to ameliorate varying degrees of mental suffering, yet I am all too aware that I am in danger of hearing the Lord say, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing,” (Ezekiel 13:3). As I read this passage in Scripture, I recognize that God is speaking to those who would lean on their own understanding without consulting His good counsel or listening for His will to be done. What would lead me to behave in this way since I know where to find God’s word? (I have one Bible in the kitchen, one in the living room, one in the car – no pun intended.)
This question has come to me often, with a longing to make sense of this living by faith, the unseen belief in the promises of God. Maybe a barrier to believing is reading that one line about those who made the list in the Hall of Faith, “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect,” (Hebrews 11:39, 40). That is a hard saying in that what I believe may not be made evident to me because the promises of God are not exclusive. He knows the bigger picture and the many lost souls who stand to gain the most from the faithfulness of a few.
Another barrier to believing is my fear that things will get worse before they get better; that is, that my prayers may bring down the wrath of God to promote healing. Though I desire to see God’s will be done, I fear His methods. There it is in black and white; my fears exposed. The “what if?” So even more than believing in the promises of God is the need to trust in the goodness of God’s promises. For I also have read these words in Ezekiel 14:23 “Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord God.
It would seem that to have faith in the unseen is to believe in the goodness of the One who is faithful to fulfill all His promises. Lord increase our faith!