“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1
The great chapter on faith in the Bible is Hebrews, chapter 11. It begins, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
What is often overlooked in this chapter, though, is the final eight verses where we get the balanced picture of faith as that which lays hold on God for rescue from suffering and as that which lays hold on God for peace and hope in suffering.
Verse 33 says “By faith they conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection…”
Now if we stopped reading here our conception of how the quality of faith manifests itself would be very distorted, because here it sounds as if faith always wins in this life.
But here a shift occurs and we find that faith is also the power to lose our life: “By faith … others were tortured, not accepting release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; others experienced mocking and scourging, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground . . . And all these gained approval through their faith. . . ”
The glory of God is manifested when He heals, and when he gives a sweet spirit of hope and peace to the person that He does not heal, for that, too, is a miracle of grace! O, that we might be a people among whom God is often healing our sicknesses, but is always causing us to be full of joy and peace while our sickness remains.
If we are a humble and childlike people who cry out to God in our need and trust in His promises, the Holy Spirit will help us and God will bless us with every possible blessing. He will, as the text says, work everything together for our good.
- John Piper