Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Imagine the setting: a Bible study. The conversation: someone admitting an inability to understand God, and someone else responds as though they needed to defend God. The weapon: Hebrews 11:1. I wish I could say that such a scene never happens, but the reality is that I have witnessed it many times over the course of the last nine years. Verse one should not be a weapon used to ward off doubt; perhaps this verse should even encourage it.
Faith is not something that grows through certainty. Faith grows through the ability to wrestle with God. From the very experience that led to the naming of Israel, to the experience witnessed through the Psalter, whether wrestling with God like Jacob or lamenting in brokenness and anger, we often find faith growing precisely through times of brokenness and doubt.
All of the faith heroes in Hebrews 11 had doubts and trials, yet their faith lived and grew through them. All of us will have doubts too. It's OK.
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of faith. We sometimes wish that we understood everything perfectly, but instead you call us to be stewards of the mysteries of faith. Help us to be faith-filled enough to know our own doubts, and know you more deeply through them. Into Christ we pray. Amen.
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 (NRSV)
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2 Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, "as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore."
13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth,
14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.