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 in your elementary school who believed in Santa Claus way longer than everyone else did? I do. At my school his name was Joshua, and he was a firm believer. His overzealous parents who had gone to extraordinary lengths to convince him Santa was real in order to squeeze a few more good Christmases out of him. He continued writing letters to Santa and getting responses into 4th grade or later. With each passing year instead of growing out of it, he seemed to only grow bolder in his confidence. The poor kid was a laughingstock.
The world isn't kind to childlike faith, is it? It is often perceived as gullibility or naivete. And in a world like ours it can make you an easy target. Take it from me. I have almost fallen prey to con men multiple times. Over time I have had to harden myself and learn to be more skeptical.
But this skepticism has taken a toll on my relationship with God. I don't 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 find myself struggling to view any particular situation 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 in my mind, 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 by faith. 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.
While faith in the wrong things can be both naive and gullible, faith in God never is. In fact, faith in God is one of the most powerful forces for change our world has ever seen. So, let's give childlike faith another try. Remember what the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).
Father, give me the faith of a child towards You. Help me to be confident in You that You might be pleased in me.