By Rebekah Bolin
Daily Lectionary Reading: Psalm 124; Genesis 9:1-17; Hebrews 11:32-40
Selected Passage: Hebrews 11:32-40
Hebrews 11:32-40 NRSVUE
32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two;[a] they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.
39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
This passage can be summarized in three statements: those whose faith produced amazing results, those who suffered immensely yet kept their faith, and how ultimately our faith is grounded in a hope so much bigger than any of us could ever imagine.
Not gonna lie, sometimes I feel like a faith-failure after reading passages like this. The faith of the people listed seems so large, so dedicated, and so unshakable, that I sometimes feel guilty for my lack of faith, or at times, what seems like lost faith. I have doubted several things I have been taught in the church, I have questioned God many times, and I have been suspicious of religious talk. So on one hand, this passage seems so far-fetched and unattainable that I want to dismiss it, but yet, on the other hand, I cannot reject its reality. Because in actuality, in the depths of my soul, I know that God is real and God is faithful. And even though my faith at times has been as small as a mustard seed, the greatness of God’s handiwork is undeniable.
I have called on God in crazy events and then have seen miraculous outcomes. I have witnessed demons and the work of evil, only to see the divine show up. I have seen the purpose behind the faith-filled decisions I have made in life and how the Lord honored such faith. I have also suffered to great lengths with grief, loss, health, and more, only to discover that sometimes immense faith simply means getting out of bed to face the day. With all this in mind, I know that even when my faith waivers, there is something deep inside which knows the life-giving truth of this passage.
However, what I love most about this passage is the reminder that we have an even greater hope. The passage ends with a reference to the promise of a savior. The birth of Jesus. The One who will make everything perfect. With the knowledge of scripture as a whole, this perfection will come in heaven. Although I do not have the space to go into detail here, I am 100% confident in the reality of heaven. What a wonderful thing for us to look forward to—even if our faith is small, wavering, or holding on by a string. Whatever we are going through, better things are to come!
Take a moment to reflect on situations in your life where you knew God was at work—whether it was something miraculous or a time of deep suffering, but you somehow felt the Lord’s presence. As you remember these times, reflect on how they can impact your faith for your current situation. Ask God to renew your faith, to restore your faith, and to grow your faith.
Dear God, thank you for the models of faith listed in Scripture. However, may I realize more and more how you work in my personal life as well. Thank you for your presence throughout my life and how you have worked in faithful ways. I ask for a renewed faith, one that reflects an unshakable hope in how you are working in my life and what is to come. Thank you, Lord.
About the Author
Rebekah grew up in the wonderful, but way too cold, state of Wisconsin. Although she is still loyal to her WI sports teams, she was wise and moved to a warmer climate. She lived in Los Angeles for 15 years and now finds herself living in the magnificently beautiful state of Hawaii. While in LA, she started and pastored a church in Downtown LA. The church is currently on hold, but the vision is still alive and well and she hopes to eventually make it back to the city. Until then, she is living it up on the Big Island—exploring and enjoying the scenery and working for a major U.S. airline. In her free time, she loves to travel, hike, play soccer, puzzle, read, host game nights, try new food, laugh around the dinner table with family and friends, and enjoy the adventures of life the Lord takes her on.