“Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” —Hebrews 11:1-2
Have you ever done one of those DNA kits? The explosive growth of sites like Ancestry, LivingDNA and 23andMe is indicative of our desire as people to know our story. I have been working on my family tree for some time. We want to know where we came from, what trials our ancestors faced and their stories of endurance. We derive encouragement from the stories, both the good and the bad, as we strive to live up to their example or do better.
The author of Hebrews understood the power of remembering where you came from. Hebrews 11 seems like a hall of fame for people who lived by faith. The list goes on and on and it is quite the list? Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham. The names on the list would have been well-known by the original audience, as well as the stories of each person the author names. For those unfamiliar with the names, the author of Hebrews makes it clear that the people listed here did not have easy lives. They all encountered struggle and hardship. In the midst of their various difficulties though, they had faith, trusting that God was good and faithful to fulfill his promises. I encourage you to read it!
Like people drawing encouragement from the successes of their ancestors,m, so also the author of Hebrews intended this review to motivate the audience in their faith. Hebrews 12 begins, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1).
While the stories in Hebrews 11 are encouraging, the author turns our focus toward Jesus Christ, who “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Eugene Peterson translates the next verse in the following way, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Heb. 12:3, The Message).
I don’t know about you but that’s exactly what I have needed this past year. 2020 was a hard year for everyone. And for some this year hasn’t been any better. “When you find yourself flagging in your faith, go over that story again, Adam by Adam, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That was shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
What an exclamation! If you look at the list in Hebrews 11 you will see that each person struggled, faced opposition, was persecuted in someway, or was isolated. If there are times that you believe the people in the Bible are not relatable, it’s likely you have spent time in scripture. God used ordinary people with ordinary circumstances to teach us how to be extraordinary in our faith. Isn’t it time that each of us live into our identity as disciple?
Are you ready to take a bold step?