29 The people had faith. So they passed through the Red Sea. They went through it as if it were dry land. The Egyptians tried to do it also. But they drowned. 30 The people had faith. So the walls of Jericho fell down. It happened after they had marched around the city for seven days. 31 Rahab, the prostitute, had faith. So she welcomed the spies. That’s why she wasn’t killed with those who didn’t obey God. 32 What more can I say? I don’t have time to tell about all the others. I don’t have time to talk about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. I don’t have time to tell about David, Samuel and the prophets. 33 Because of their faith they took over kingdoms. They ruled fairly. They received the blessings God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions. 34 They put out great fires. They escaped being killed by the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became powerful in battle. They beat back armies from other countries. 35 Women received their dead back. The dead were raised to life again. Others were made to suffer greatly. But they refused to be set free. They did that so that after death they would be raised to a better life. 36 Some were laughed at. Some were whipped. Still others were held by chains. They were put in prison. 37 Some were killed with stones. They were sawed in two. They were put to death by the sword. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats. They were poor. They were attacked. They were treated badly. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains. They lived in caves. They lived in holes in the ground. 39 All of those people were praised because they had faith. But none of them received what God had promised. 40 God had planned something better for us. So they would only be made perfect together with us.
We have a long list of heroes of faith, who are models for the faith I should have. Each of these people believed God for something they could not see, something that God had promised but had not yet happened.
Many saw what they trusted God for. Israel saw the Egyptian army destroyed within hours, the walls of Jericho fall in days, Rahab saw her rescue within weeks. Others saw God act within months or years.
Others endured the most dreadful things, but did not see what they hoped for within their lifetimes. But God remains faithful. We have seen what Jesus did to secure that promise. We have seen their reward continue to unfold, though they did not. The eternal life he bought is certain, paid for, but is yet to come in its fullness for them, and for us.
It can be really hard when the things we ask God for, the things we believe he has promised, do not happen in days, or weeks or even months or years. It can be really hard when we pray for things like healing for someone, and they die. What’s gone wrong? Is it my lack of faith?
God had a better thing at a better time for those heroes of faith (and also for us). And they are truly heroes of faith because they kept on believing in God’s faithfulness and goodness right to the end of their lives here.
If I can continue to believe when my patience runs out, if I can continue to believe when He’s doing something different (and better) than I envisaged, if I can continue to look for his faithfulness even beyond the end of this life – that is true faith. He remains faithful and good – even when I find it really hard.
Father, please give me spiritual eyes to see that your promises are certain even when my physical eyes can’t, and the courage to go on believing when circumstances tell me to give up.
Written by David Cornell