What is great faith? Many people think great faith is when the person involved receives their answer to prayer immediately. If there is not a wonderful answer to prayer or the answer is delayed, it’s because of weak faith. But this is not what the Bible teaches.
Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter. In verse one up to verse 35, everyone received their miracle by faith, but in verse 35 it says, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Verse 36 – 40 shares that many people were tortured, some killed, etc., vs. 39 – “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” They obtained a good testimony through faith! Yet, they died without receiving their miracle! Did they have great faith? Yes! There is no greater faith than remaining faithful to God in the middle of your adversity!
This is commentary on Hebrews 11: 35 – 38 from The Spirit Filled Life Bible. “The fact that others were tortured and suffered in various other ways indicates that faith does not provide an automatic exemption from hardships, trials, or tragedy. Furthermore, the experience of such difficulties does not mean that the people undergoing them possess less faith than those who are not afflicted. The same faith that enables some to escape trouble enables others to endure it. The same faith that delivers some from death enables others to die victoriously. Faith is not a bridge over troubled waters, but is a pathway through them. Discerning the pathway and the source of any hardships encountered requires aggressive prayer and worship. Through these means, Gods perspective becomes focused.”
Paul suffered much throughout his ministry. Was he suffering because of his lack of faith? No! Paul had great faith that kept him faithful in the middle of all of his adversity. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul describes the marks of his ministry. In the 10th verse he says, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” He was looking beyond his natural circumstances and expressing the spiritual blessings.
Paul also shared about his natural sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11. He talked about being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked three times, in diverse perils, in weariness, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, and deep concern for all the churches. He didn’t have a growing church supporting him with a beautiful home, cars, motor coaches, vacations, etc. He was in the trenches of suffering for the sake of the ministry where God had called him.
When Paul was brought before King Agrippa, he started his testimony by saying, “I think myself happy—.” He was in prison for preaching Christ and Him crucified and he said, “I think myself happy!” True faith is when a person stands strong in the Lord and in the power of His Might in the middle of the adversities of life.
Our life is like a tapestry – God sees the finished product from heaven’s point of view. He knows our end from our beginning – all we see is the underside of our tapestry and none of it makes sense to us. We do not see the design as God sees it. I’m talking about personal experience in suffering in adversity from the devil. I know about not having answers and suffering without knowing God’s plan. Nothing happens to us that has not already passed through God’s fingers first. Nothing surprises God – it just surprises us! Learning to lean on God and fully trust Him for all things is a journey through life.
I pray you have been encouraged to understand even though sickness, death, financial loss, loss of job, family discord, betrayal, etc., may be in your life now, it’s not a judgment of God against you or your lack of faith. It’s because we live in the fallen world of sin. God let’s us know in this world we will have tribulation, but we are to be of good cheer because He overcame. Before His victory, He had to suffer death, and then came the resurrection!
The greater the trials of life, the greater the reward in heaven. God said the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Men look at life from a totally different perspective than God does. We glorify men/women who are well known among us and make their mark in life according to human concept. But God looks in the hearts of us all and will reward us according to our faithfulness to Him and the motives behind our actions.
As an example, God says when we pray, give and fast, we are to do so ‘behind closed doors.’ He says when we do these things in secret, He will reward us openly. But what do we tend to do? We let others know about our prayer time at church. When we give a large amount, it’s usually announced by name. When we fast, we tell the whole world we are going on a Daniel’s fast for 21 days. God says when we brag about what we are doing, that will be the only glory we will receive.
To understand God, we must become a student of His Word. Study the scripture. Don’t allow what other people do or think discourage you in your faith walk with God. Faith comes through the Word of God. In the middle of Job’s adversity, he challenged God directly and God did not rebuke him. Job remained faithful even when his ‘comforters’ kept asking him to confess his sin. Job knew he had a pure heart. God said he was a “man blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” – Job 1:1.
Even though you may shed many tears during your adversity of life, as long as you keep a pure heart before God, rest assured you have great faith. When you can do nothing else, just stand. Whether God doubly restores you in this life or gives you strength to endure until He comes, never give up. Stand strong in your faith and in the power of His might!
© Carol Clemans – January 2014 – www.carolclemans.org
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