“Others… were sawn in two… were slain with the sword” (vv. 35, 37).
In reading through Hebrews 11’s famous Hall of Faith, we find these descriptors. On the one hand, some giants of the faith escaped the edge of the sword. That said, other giants of the faith listed here were slain with the sword.
Is this a contradiction? Were some of these faith giants greater than others? Sometimes, we want to put God in easily classified categorical boxes. We want to say, “It’s either one, or the other, God. I would really be glad for a definitive answer from You, please: Does faith mean that we will be freed from difficult, distressing circumstances… or does faith mean that we need to submit to suffering?”
He gently explains, it’s not “either/or.” It’s “both/and.” At different moments in our lives, these complementary elements of faith will come into play in varying ways. Many, many times, our faith journey will reflect a combination of the two: both endurance, and deliverance. Ponder on this Scripture:
Just a little aside here. Our concept, and God’s concept, of “a little while” often differ significantly. I, personally, want the suffering to be over yesterday please, how about you? The Father smiles at you and me tenderly. “Peace, child,” He murmurs comfortingly, with all of His love.
This brings to mind a moment I had with God recently while reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to my daughter Anna. I laughed softly to myself when we came to a particular bit of dialogue. It reminded me of so many conversations I have had with Jesus:
Aslan: “Do not look so sad. We shall meet again soon.”
Lucy: “Please, Aslan, what do you call soon?”
Aslan: “I call all times soon.”
Yep. This is a delightful portrayal of the Lord’s use of any kind of word that measures time. After all, two millennia ago, He said of His return to earth, “Look, I am coming soon!” (Rev. 22:7, NLT).
So… whether “a little while” means a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or several years… faith means clinging to the promises and faithfulness of God during painful seasons. It means persevering until He restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. And He always will! You and I can deeply depend on that.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Heb. 10:35, NKJV).
Have you experienced both aspects of faith – that which perseveres under trial, and that which delivers you from trial? What do you see as the difference between the two?