The Flip Side of Faith
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Prov. 13:12.
Faith's Hall of Fame is found in Hebrews 11. Abel's sacrifice was better and his blood still speaks today (verse 4). Enoch was so close to God that...poof, he was gone. God took him (verse 5). Noah built an ark even though it had never rained, and saved his family (verse 7). Abraham left everyone and everything secure to follow God (verse 8). Childless, Sara conceived a son in her old age (verse 11). Commanded by God to offer up this long awaited promised child, both Abraham and Isaac accepted the challenge and passed the test (verse 17-19). The list continues on naming others who stood in faith triumphing over difficult circumstances.
Toward the end of the chapter we find another group whose journeys were neither exciting nor glamorous. Some experienced horrible physical abuse, torture and even death. They were impoverished, homeless and outcasts. They along with the others all share a single common denominator.
"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." Heb. (emphasis mine).
As individuals, are we willing to walk with God when it looks as if things will never change, improve or a desired objective achieved?
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Heb. 11:1.
How does faith prevent the heart sickness brought on by deferred hope?
"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." Heb. 12:1.
Those who have gone on before us are more alive than we who are still here. They are our living proof that we too can make it.
In addition, we need to lighten our loads.
"Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Heb. 12:1.
Nothing beats crossing the finish line. Even if you finish last you've beaten those who never got started or quit along the way. The joy of accomplishing the goal outweighs the hardships and difficulties endured.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy before Him endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb. 12: 2-3.
Jesus knows what its like to face impossible circumstances and to die without seeing the total fulfillment of the mission achieved in this lifetime. He had no guarantee that anyone would receive freely the salvation He died to procure. Eternity will reveal the final outcome of His sacrifice.
How about you? Which hopes deferred have made your heart sick? What difficulties/problems have you questioning just how much of a difference Christ is making in your life right now? What has you ready to quit, throw in the towel and walk away? Does it help to realize you're not the only one who has felt this way? If you choose to put your attention and focus onto Jesus and not your situation, what aspect of Him will you concentrate on? How will this help you gain fresh perspectives on your situation?