Hebrews 11: 33-38a (KJV) Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy;)…
Have you ever had a moment when your life turned upside down? A letter, a phone call – for me, an email – that bore life-changing news. In that moment, all I could pray was, “Lord, help!” My faith was tested during those dark days. I would pray, “Lord, I believe you can. But will you?” Then my doubt would creep in. Does He really hear me? Does He really want to answer me? Will He answer the way I want Him to? At the end of that situation, God did answer my prayers the way I wanted. He showed me (and those who prayed with me) His miracle-working power in an amazing way.
Today, I want to draw your attention to those whose faith was tested, but their stories had very different endings from mine.
Hebrews 11 has been called the Faith Hall of Fame. The “supermen” of the faith, so to speak, are lauded in the chapter as having great, mountain-moving faith. Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses are listed because their lives were testaments of trust and obedience to God. We are encouraged by their stories. They lived to see great answers to prayer.
However, the last few verses of Hebrews 11 have a different list. We read them earlier. Many people faced persecution, torture, destitution, and death because of their faith in God.
Abraham had faith God could raise Isaac from the dead if he sacrificed him in obedience to God’s test. Some saw dead loved ones raise back to life. Others – who had just as much faith as Abraham – died and were not raised from the dead. But all were listed in the Hebrews 11 Faith Hall of Fame.
I am not here to answer Why. We will probably never know why God does or doesn’t answer prayer as we would like, or why He seems to work miracles for some and not others. I remember a song from my childhood that said sometimes God answers Yes, and sometimes He answers No, and sometimes He answers Wait. My friend, God does hear your prayers. He sees your tears. His answer may not be what you want to hear, and that is when your faith takes over. Let your faith remind you that God still loves you and that He wants what is best for you. Let your faith lean on Him for strength for the next hour, day, or year. Faith doesn’t mean smooth sailing – but it does mean you don’t have to face the storm alone.
Jesus promised that even a small amount of faith could move mountains (Matthew 17: 20). However, there are times when He chooses not to move the mountains for us because He knows we need the mountains to help our faith grow. So it was when Abraham took Isaac up the mountain. Isaac was the sacrifice until God saw Abraham’s faith did not waver; God provided a ram instead.
The mountains of physical pain and death were not removed from those listed at the end of Hebrews 11. Instead, their faith was fulfilled. They got to see Jesus face to face, and Hebrews 11: 38 says the world was not worthy of them. My friend, if your faith is being tested today, I want to encourage you to keep holding on to your faith. What is this faith that I’m supposed to have, you may ask in your darkest moments. Faith is belief. Faith is conviction of these truths: that God is there, that He does love us, that He does hear our cries, and that everything He does is for our good, even when we don’t see it. You are not alone. Others have gone before and had their faith tested, and God was right there with them. No matter what, He will be right there with you too.