Often, Hebrews chapter 11 is quoted to encourage us that we will get the material things we ask for if we only have faith. However, today, for the first time, another promise within this chapter stood out to me. The verses that talk about those who had faith to still believe in something greater to come, even though they were tortured, slaughtered, imprisoned, destitute and stoned to death, Hebrew 11:36.
The Tendency to Ignore the pain
I believe we are so afraid of pain, and wish to avoid it so badly, that we overlook the bible verses that speak of it, that suggest that in some cases Christians suffer horrible things too, as if, if we don’t acknowledge it or speak it, it won’t come to us. I understand why we do this. I too wish to avoid pain. I also hate even thinking about it. I too wish there was something I could do to ensure that my family and I would never have to suffer. However, we do ourselves a disservice, and increase the odds that we may fall away from the Word and become faint hearted by not searching the scriptures to see how our ancestors endured horrible things.
The Power of Faith in Pain Demonstrated
Some things we will see on this earth, and some things we will not see until later. But by faith, we know that even the things we have not seen yet do exist. God promises that his children are delivered from death. On this side it looks like we die, but, God cannot lie. Therefore, this must not be death. God promises that his children are protected from the destruction of the evil one. So, that must mean that on this side, when we are tortured, raped, killed and slaughtered, that is not the end of the story for us. For those of us who live to survive the pain inflicted on us, or the pain of loved ones who have passed away, we must by faith cry out to God for the healing that he promised us.
For if he said he would give it, he will give it if we ask. By faith, I believe that even in our afflictions we are healed by the balm in Gilead, that being the Holy Ghost. By faith I believe there must be two sets of God’s children who suffer. One set are those who live and survive the torment. If you are alive and have survived horrible offenses, you are a walking testimony of healing and peace that surpasses all understanding. Cry out to God for your healing by faith, and receive the gift of unexplainable joy, peace and healing. You are a beacon of light that gives the rest of the world hope. You are the reason those who may not know God will run to him so that they may be unexplainably whole and healed too.
The second set of God’s children are those who suffered torment unto death, you are the evidence of God’s promise fulfilled beyond this earth. You are the testimony of the resurrection, of the greater plans God has promised us that eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard. We will all meet you and see God’s promise fulfilled when we get there.
A Higher Level of Faith
We shout when we hear the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but, do we really grasp the gravity of it? Their faith was so strong in God, and their connection with him so strong and intimate, that murder was not a trigger to feel vexed, angry at God, or Question God’s love for them. Instead, they were so sure that God loved them, that murder, a painful, gruesome murder, was a voluntary choice because they 100% believed that even in death, God would make them victorious.
We talk about and shout about their faith, but, the fear of death, the experience of death of our loved ones makes us faint and fall away and lose faith in the love of God for us.
We lose our children in this world, and the pain and grief is understandable and normal. However, look at the faith of Abraham when hen was tried to offered up Issaac. He had received the promise that in Isaac his seed would be called. He had so much faith in the promises of God, that promised that in Isaac his seed shall be called, that he believed that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead and still fulfill the promise.
The Ultimate Faith Goal
The ultimate goal of faith is not to use it to avoid pain, suffering, or death, but instead, to have so much faith in the resurrection, in God’s promise of eternal life, healing and joy that surpasses all understanding, that we face death, pain suffering and affliction with a hopeful expectation of better things to come at the end of the affliction, even the death. Oh, death, where is your sting?
The Purpose of the Examples of Faith in the Bible
The purpose of the demonstrations of faith in the Bible are for far greater purpose than to encourage us to seek material things. The purpose of the faith demonstrated in the bible is to prepare us for the trials, death and tribulation that God knew would come. He gave us examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, so that we would have examples of how our hearts and faith should be, should we face death. He gave us examples of those who were slaughtered killed and stoned to death, so that should if we face torture, or lose loved ones, that we would see their firm belief of the better life after the resurrection, so that we would have the same anchor in faith.
Faith, The Substance of Things Hoped For, The Evidence of Things Not Seen Hebrews 11:1
Fatally, we are only taught to apply this verse to material things. But what does it profit us to gain the world and lose our soul, lose our faith, lose our hope, lose our sense of security? When an innocent child is brutally murdered, justice, deliverance and God’s safety is not seen. But, faith, allows us to look beyond the physical occurrences on earth and see the child in God’s arms, resurrected, totally absent of the memory and pain of this world. When we are tormented, and suffer great offenses, it looks as if God’s promise to protect and be a shield is not there. But, faith, allows us to hold fast to the belief that we will be delivered and healed, and made whole, and flooded with peace and joy in spite of our sufferings.
Therefore, if you can remove yourself from a painful situation, remove yourself and have faith that you will be 100% restored. If for some reason you are suffering something you cannot be removed from, I pray you have the heart of faith of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego, the faith of those who even in the face of death, stood still with a hopeful expectation, 100% sure that God is faithful to fulfill his promise, and that life on earth is not the end of the story, and that his resurrection is a testimony to all of us of our resurrection after death as well, never suggesting that one takes his or her own life. NEVER. But, encouraging that should you experience a report of death from a doctor, or of a loved one, or something of the kind, that your faith is so strong in God’s promise of eternal life that you have stronger faith in his love for you, and a healthy expectation to see it in the rest of the story after earth.