Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Faith commended

When faith is under fire there is no better place to go than the Word of God. From the pages of the Bible come words that sustain, strengthen us and carry us through. No superficial words here - no easy believism - no phony baloney, just enough to keep us hanging in there.

During the great trial of faith through which Diane and I are passing the scriptures have been our emergency rations every day. Even when we have been at our lowest there has always been a word in season. This morning we were really struck by this passage in Hebrews 11 - the great chapter of faith:
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.37 They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated—38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
That last line really spoke to us. These biblical heroes were commended by God for their faith and yet they had not received what had been promised to them! Their basket was empty, their pain unrelieved, their hopes were unrealised. Yet, God commended their faith.
From this I draw the consolation that not all faith is 'receiving faith'. Some is just 'persevering faith' or the faith to endure. If that faith alone is yours today you have God's commendation on your life.