Heb 11:1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Faith is a living thing. You can let it live in you or let it die. The way we live, the lifestyle that we practice gives breath to faith. Most of us are able to practice the first part of Heb 11:1 and all of us struggle with the second part. The first part is being sure about our hope, our dream, our desire, our expectation and our wish. Every one of us carries a ray of hope in us even if it were quite thin. Hope is a powerful indestructible weapon. That is why people (refugees and migrants) risk their lives crossing deadly seas in dangerous conditions. A small dream, a likely wish, an ambitious expectation or a necessary desire, can awaken the sleeping beast of hope within us and charge us to almost an eruptive state to stretch us to an unknown future that does not promise a good or a bad prospect.
The second part of Heb 11:1 is about being certain, being sure, questionlessly convinced and having an undisturbed confidence as if we have tested it and have proved it real. The toughest part here is being certain of what we do not see, meaning, we have not seen it or tested it; we cannot prove it real. It is as if to say that there is a reality, of which, as of now I cannot show you any material evidence. The reality remains immaterial as long as I live by my physical senses, what my eyes can see, my nose can smell, my emotions can feel or my brain can understand.
The nature of life by faith can be compared to the nature of walking on water. It is saying no to the substance of unbelief, which wants us to act only on what we can see, touch, smell and bunker in the bank. Many Christian believers have succumbed to the promises of Mammon, and have ended up not in God’s Promised Land, but somewhere where we never imagined we could end up, sitting with mammon in a very hot whirlpool for far too long. Mammon says, “Make deals, sign contracts, have insurances, job security, make double sure to seek first a firm employment and all its benefits, and then you can – in your spare time or after retirement – do something for the Kingdom of God.”
Life by faith is to know, either God’s promises are true, or we drown. Even if it sometimes takes a long time – thanks Abraham and Sarah for living the example – God’s promises will come true. If not, we have died waiting for them, which is far better than dying without a thin ray of hope. Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ, not from hearing our own desires and dreams.
Abraham was told to go to “the land I will show you”, not very clear or specific. And he set off. He lived in tents looking for the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. He heard God say, “go to the land I will show you” and he simply trusted God to be the city planner.
According to the promise of God, Abraham’s wife Sarah, past the age of child bearing, bore him a son, Isaac. Abraham loved him. Some years later, God told him to sacrifice his only promised son. I cannot imagine the reactions of Abraham’s physical senses, his emotions, feelings, thousands of questions that raced his mind, and his own dreams and desires of his son growing into a young man. Early next morning Abraham left, he did not ask any questions. He only had answers.
“Where is the lamb for the sacrifice, dad?”
“God will provide, my son”.
Abraham stopped using his physical senses to perceive God. He understood that there is no material way of seeing the reality of the immaterial.