Exercising one’s faith in the Lord can be displayed in many ways and can present us with a mixed bag of outcomes. Sometimes it’s convenient while at other times very inconvenient. Walking in faith can take us down a path full of messy sorrows or a path full of marvelous serenity. Regardless of how godly faith plays out in our lives–whether it’s constant stress or very little stress–clinging to faith in the Father will always be rewarded in the end even if we don’t see the reward until after this life.
It’s easy to get preoccupied with comparing our walk to the walk of other saints by asking ourselves, “God, you did this thing for them, how come you didn’t do it for me?” Peter even fell into this rut in John 21:19-20 when Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” As Peter followed the Lord, he turned around and saw John following also, so Peter asked Jesus [paraphrasing], “What’s this guy gonna do?” Jesus basically told Peter that was none of his business and that his focus should be on making sure he himself followed the Lord.
In Hebrews 11, the chapter referred to as the Hall of Faith, we are shown snippets of the lives of many Old Testament saints and how they exercised faith so we can learn from them. None of them is exactly the same and their methods and situations were in many cases vastly different. The following are some examples:
- Abel by faith knew what type of sacrifice pleased God and he offered it from the heart (v. 4). All God expects from some saints is a simple gesture of sacrificial obedience, which can ultimately have a huge impacting testimony.
- Enoch was so close to God, God snatched him up to heaven and he never died (v. 5). Some believers will experience miraculous things by faith that no other saint may experience.
- Noah built an ark by faith for 120 years to save his family while he preached of God’s coming watery judgment (v. 7). Jehovah may tell believers to do something that’s so crazy by human standards that no one else has ever done before that may serve to save their families.
- Abraham became a foreigner in a foreign land, inconveniently moving away from his family because God told him he wanted him to be separated to receive a greater blessing (vv. 8-10). Sometimes to be blessed, we may have to move to new, unfamiliar territory.
- Sarah through her faith was able to have a child in her old age (v. 11). Like Sarah, some believers through faith may have their most powerful accomplishments when they are past their “prime” and when others assume they’re all washed up. Age is no hindrance to God.
- Moses’ parents by faith knew not to obey Pharaoh’s unjust law that called for killing Jewish male babies (v. 23). Some saints may be called to break man-made ungodly laws to fulfill God’s more just laws.
- Moses through faith considered suffering with his people under Pharaoh in obedience to God as better than remaining a rich adopted heir in Pharaoh’s pagan palace (vv. 24-27). This speaks of saints who would rather suffer as they resist conforming to the world’s ways, laying aside selfish gains so they can be transformed into God’s holiness through their faith life.
- Many saints by faith subdued kingdoms (v. 33). Notice here that in order to subdue kingdoms, they by faith in God used violence to fight off the enemies of God when they had to. Some are called by God to secure their domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense to secure the blessings of God’s liberties. Sound familiar?
- By faith they carried out righteous works (v. 33). These are saints who have the wisdom to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them to do from small things to big things by faith.
- Through faith some saints worked to put an end to unjust violence (v. 34).
- By faith they escaped by fleeing from those who wanted to take their lives (v. 34). While some saints are called to stand and fight, others may be called to flee.
- The weak became strong by faith (v. 34). In other words, faith turned the cowardly into the bold. Faith lets us know when it’s time to run and when it’s time to stand our ground.
- Faith made saints valiant when they needed to fight (v. 34). Fighting for a godly, selfless cause, by nonviolent or violent means, is a sign of faith in the Father. Modern day examples: if someone breaks into your home to harm your family or a guest, you have the God-given right to use violence to subdue them. Same with an armed perpetrator who comes into your church building looking to kill Christians. Suing someone for violating your religious rights is also acceptable.
- Some saints were robbed of possessions, unjustly jailed, physically assaulted, run out of town, gave up earthly goods, or were murdered while exercising their faith (vv. 35-38).
Though no two situations were alike, God was glorified in all of them because of their genuine faith.
Harry A. Gaylord