Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Do you remember that kid who believed in Santa way longer than everyone else did growing up? I do. At my school his name was Joshua. He was a firm believer. His confidence had been bolstered by the extraordinary lengths his parents had gone to in order to squeeze a few more good Christmases out of him. This young man continued writing letters to Santa I would say at least into 4th grade if not later. I remember with each passing year we really expected he would grow out of it, but instead he seemed to grow bolder in trying to convince us that Santa was real. The poor kid was a laughingstock every year.
I bring this up not to start a Santa war but simply to point out one of the many ways in which our world doesn't reward childlike faith. In the real world childlike faith is often equated with being gullible. If you aren't careful it will make you an easy target and leave you embarrassed you were ever so naive. Over time this world we live in has hardened me. I have had to learn to be more skeptical as I have been embarrassed by my own gullibility and have even almost fallen prey to con men multiple times.
I have begun to realize that this has taken a toll on my relationship with God. I do not doubt His existence or the truth of Christianity. Those were settled in my heart, in my experience, and in my mind long ago. But I do find myself to be a terrible skeptic when it comes to viewing any particular situation or difficulty through the eyes of faith. I sometimes find it hard to believe that God is going to do some great work in a situation. I often feel like I am wasting my efforts. Instead of hoping for the best, or even looking to receive what God has promised, I often find myself expecting the worst.
With this realization fresh in my heart I looked at Hebrews 11 with fresh eyes this week. I saw it for the first time not as a Hall of Faith- a list of all the great believers throughout history- but as an Apology for Faith- an argument for living in faith by showing what faith produces. As we read the chapter and the lives of those it references we find the following:
- From Abel's life we learn that God remembers faith.
- From Enoch's life we learn that God is pleased with faith.
- From Noah's life we learn that God is patient with those who have faith. (I extrapolate this from both the many years it took for Noah to build the ark and from Noah's failure after the flood.)
- From Abraham's life we learn that God expects longsuffering faith and that he always rewards it, though on His own timetable.
- From Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac we learn that God does test our faith.
- From Joseph's life we learn that God wants us to make plans and preparations in accord with our faith.
- From Moses' life we learn that God sets us free from fear by faith, that God gives us the faith to live for our future in Him and not for the present this world can offer us, that faith makes us bold, and that God does amazing things by our faith.
- Lastly from Rahab's life we learn that God offers redemption to those who have faith.
So it turns out that when faith is placed in the right object it isn't shameful at all. In fact, faith in God is one of the most powerful forces for change our world has ever seen. So maybe it's time we all gave faith another try. Maybe we can learn to look at our circumstances through the eyes of faith again.
Father, give me the faith of a child towards You. Help me to be confident in You that You might be pleased in me.