” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”- Hebrews 11:1
I’ve been meditating on Hebrews 11, the famed passage on men and women of faith, for awhile in the early morning hours before I go off to work. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, I let that brew in my mind. When I think of faith, I see it in pictures and in moments. As a small child, I saw the people in my sending church crouched in their chairs, praying quietly. The Lord is listening when you talk to Him, they told me when I shyly questioned them about it. Talk to Him yourself, they told me smiling, He wants you to come to Him. Slightly unnerved, I walked away. They expected that they will be heard and their prayers answered. I hid my doubts and went off to play.
To say that my life has been changed by faith, not even by my own personal faith, is an understatement. By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called out to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). My family immigrated to another country because they were convinced that they were called to take a step of faith.
However I think most people are confused by the term. I certainly was. Faith doesn’t appear to be based on any proof and it seems at times illogical and passive. We speak of it in powerful terms but it never seemed powerful to me. I would rather be fine without it. I’m learning though that I’m not.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, I think and I know of all of things I hope for; they are needful. I am thirsty for answers and conviction. I hope that life has meaning. I hope that I can establish that feeling of home. I need life to have meaning. I need a home. My hopes are my needs. However, faith is more than hope (that slightly passive word). I do not hope that Jesus is real, alive, and powerful, as in He may be or He may not. That would be time wasted. I expect, I know, that He is real, alive, and powerful.
But the evidence for the unseen? I immediately think of T.S. Elliot’s ‘ visible reminder of the Invisible Light’* and his description of the Church and what it should be, as a light reflecting the Light. We cannot see Jesus, as in He is not in a physical body but we see Him in changed lives. We see Him in other people’s faith when they are rejected or mocked or even tortured because they state, I am broken but Christ is whole. Other people’s willingness to give up everything in order to speak about Jesus reminds me of the Light. It becomes evidence for things not seen.
It is conviction lived out in action. Faith itself is in the act of trusting and obeying even when it doesn’t make complete sense at the time. Often it is an incredibly painful and brave act, of letting go, making sacrifices, and going on a different path. I have not lost home, family, and friends through random and meaningless ‘acts of faith’ but in actuality I have gained more. I have better things to come when I move forward by faith.
*Elliot, T.S., Selected Poems (1954) ‘Choruses From “The Rock”‘, Chorus IX, Faber and Faber Limited,