WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13
“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated”
Hebrews 11:36-37 ESV
FAITH CAN PRODUCE ENDURANCE
There is a story about how the news of the victory at the battle at Waterloo arrived in England. There were no telegrams or telephones in those days, nobody could send a text or put it up on Facebook or Youtube, of course, but everyone knew that Wellington was facing Napoleon in that great battle on the 18th of June 1815, and that the future of England was in great uncertainty. A sailing ship semaphored (signalled with coded flags) the news to the signalman on top of Winchester Cathedral. He signalled to another man somewhere on a hill, and this way the news of the battle was passed on by semaphore from one place to another all the way to London and across the whole land.
When the ship came in, the signalman on board semaphored the first word: “W e l l i n g t o n.” The next word was “d e f e a t e d”, and then the fog came down and the ship could not be seen. “Wellington defeated” went across England, and there was great gloom all over the countryside. After two or three hours, the fog lifted, and the signal came again: “Wellington defeated the enemy.” Then all England rejoiced.
Yesterday, we saw in Hebrews 11:32-35 what appeared to be great victories of faith. Now, in Hebrews 11:36-37 we see what appear to be great defeats of faith. Yet, the fog had not lifted yet. What is the difference between verses 32-35 and verses 36-37? Not much. The faith of the people was the same, but the outcome was different. It seems that faith can lead you into victory or plunge you into defeat. It can allow you to escape the sword (verse 34) or die by the sword (verse 37).
Pastor John Piper writes, “The common feature of the faith that escapes suffering and the faith that endures suffering is this: Both of them involve believing that God Himself is better than what life can give to you now, and better than what death can take from you later. When you can have it all, faith says that God is better; and when you lose it all, faith says that God is better. … What does faith believe in the moment of torture? That if God loved me, He would get me out of this? No. Faith believes that there is a kind of resurrection for believers which is better than the miracle of escape.”
When we go through difficult times it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with our faith. Sometimes it’s great faith that gets us into those situations. But it is also faith that will sustain us through those situations. Ask God to help you maintain faith in Him in the good times and the bad times.