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Faith in Things Not Seen

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1, NRSV

Hebrews 11 has sometimes been called the “heroes of faith” chapter because the author takes us through a list of people who remained faithful, even when God’s promises seemed next to impossible.

One example it gives is the story of Abraham. In the book of Genesis, God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations at the ripe old age of 99. God goes on to promise Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, that she will have a child. Not only that, but God tells the couple that their offspring will be as numerous as the stars!

Although God did give Abraham and Sarah a child, they ultimately died without seeing God fulfill His promises—at least not to their full extent. They may have seen glimpses of God’s promises, but as the author of Hebrews tells us, they saw themselves as strangers and foreigners on the earth (Hebrews 11:13b). The ultimate fulfillment of their hope in God would not be found on Earth, but in heaven. Or to put it another way, faith is not always knowing what the future holds, but the One who holds the future.

I imagine 2020 has magnified many of our difficulties, fears and doubts. Yet Holy Scripture reminds us that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Instead, we often find God in our suffering and uncertainty—exactly where many of us perceive His absence.

I love how the author Anne Lamott describes this. She says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until the light of Christ fills the void.” [1]

Today, with God’s grace, may we remember that one day all of our fears and doubts will be transformed into God’s glorious promises fulfilled.

[1] Lamott, Ann. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.
The Rev. Chad T. Martin
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