Faith means suffering. Christians don’t like to believe that. And people who resist Christianity or church were probably told otherwise at one point, thinking God owes them something because someone told them so, in error, and after being disappointed, abandoned the faith altogether. If you’re hanging onto Jesus hoping for a payout, you’re next to leave.
We read the “hall of faith” and we commend the great prophets and characters of the OT for withstanding difficult situations. And we should — they were a lot braver than we’ll ever get. Some of them were wealthy, but the majority of them were dirt poor. Even Jesus was homeless for at least three years of his life, entirely so during His recorded life in the gospels.
Why did they do it? (“It” refers to the list. Read it.) Once they realized they weren’t going to get anything but torture out of their faith, why did they insist on continuing? Did they notice something we don’t?
Yes, they did. They realized they weren’t home yet.
A huge quantity of humanity, particularly in United States, has fallen in love with a temporary home. The earth moves and shakes; people are dynamic and fickle, waters ebb and tides slide back in. Our planet constantly undergoes makeovers, yet we insist on building our foundation here like we’re never going to die. Sorry to ruin your Friday, but it’s going to happen someday. And your house is going to be bulldozed.
Twice in the chapter (v. 13-16, v. 39-40), the writer emphasizes that these guys did not receive the promise — namely, the life in Jesus Christ we take for granted. The majority of them had very little “hope” for salvation, depending on earthly sacrifices to provide for them the necessary means to make it to heaven.
It’s time for us to return our eyes to heaven. The world is not completely hopeless — there are definitely things to do. Don’t hide in a corner or in your churches (sometimes those are the same thing) and wait for everything to come to fruition — we’re supposed to actually accomplish things while we’re here. And we were put here to enjoy it, so don’t dismiss that either. But don’t become enamored with it all, for it is not your calling to root on a dying, volatile planet.
So what is the purpose of faith? The “unseen” and the things we “hope for” are not the haul-in of stuff we mistakenly believe we’re entitled to (I don’t care how many books say otherwise), but the beautiful ending of heaven we’ll inevitably inherit after surrendering to Jesus Christ, abandoning comfort and selfishness for the sake of His glory.
He didn’t suffer so we didn’t have to. He suffered so He might identify with our struggles.