I’m currently making my way (slowly) through the book of Hebrews each morning. Sometimes I make it through a whole chapter, and other times it takes me a few days. There’s no way to fully plunge the depths of this book (or any Bible book, for that matter), but I always enjoy trying!
Hebrews contains a lot of references to the Old Testament, old systems of Judaism and patriarchs of the faith…but it’s far from irrelevant. I recently hit Hebrews 11, and I loved every minute of it. Hebrews 11 is often affectionately referred to as “The Hall of Faith.” Although I understand the title and why we often call it that, I don’t love it. Since that title is obviously linked to the Hall of Fame, it can make the people that are mentioned in Hebrews 11 feel untouchable, as though they are the Bible’s version of the star athletes, rock stars and celebrities. Sure, they are well-known, but they’re far from untouchable. The Bible isn’t shy about their failures. In fact, I learn just as much from their failures as I do from their faith. But Hebrews 11 is about faith.
As I read and re-read Hebrews 11, a common theme jumped out at me about how the men and women listed were able to endure some seemingly impossible situations. See if you can pick up on a theme…
Abraham was told to leave his hometown and set out, “not knowing where he was going” (vs. 8). How did he survive the unknown? He “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and make is God” (vs. 10).
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah all faced some seemingly impossible situations. They endured because they realized a simple fact: “they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (vs. 13), and they “declare plainly that they seek a homeland” (vs. 14).
Moses chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God [rather] than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (vs. 25). But how did he endure? He “looked to the reward” (vs. 26) and “endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (vs. 27).
The theme of endurance bleeds (literally) into Hebrews 12 as well, with Jesus – the greatest example of suffering and endurance. He endured the physical pain of the cross and the spiritual pain of separation from God by “the joy that was set before Him” (vs. 2).
Through all of the seemingly impossible situations that these people faced, they all did the same thing: they kept their eyes on the prize.
The lesson for us is clear: endurance comes from lifting our eyes off of our present circumstances and constantly reminding ourselves that God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).
Whenever you face a seemingly impossible situation, remember that our “heroes of the faith” were people with a nature just like ours. Looking toward the promise enables faith in the present.
Keep your eyes on the prize. It will all be worth it.