33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
I read verses 33 through 35 and I am absolutely amazed at what these people were able to accomplish through faith in God. They were able to do incredible, miraculous things because of their faith. I call this conquering faith. Then....there is a big shift. I read verses 36-38 and all of a sudden things are a whole lot different. We were talking about people being raised from the dead, conquering kingdoms, and sending entire armies to flight...... now all of a sudden we are talking about people being persecuted, stoned to death, and being sawed in two. This second group of people in verses 36-38 had what I call enduring faith. The Hebrew writer tells us about some of the different ways faith manifested itself. For some people, it allowed them to do amazing things, and for others it gave them the strength to endure great suffering even to the point of death.
I need faith in order to follow Jesus. I need faith in order to be a missionary here in Africa. I love that faith can conquer and has allowed me to come here and do things that I never dreamed of. I also love that our faith gives us the strength to endure. On days when my wife and I are struggling and just want to give up because of all the hardships that come with living in a third world country, we can just lean on our faith in Jesus and endure through the hard times.
I pray that you will have faith in your life. You will have faith to overcome and accomplish great things, and you will have the faith to endure through all the hardships. It's interesting how we tend to focus on the people that have done all the "big amazing" things, and say they have great faith. That's fine. But for these people that the Hebrew writer talks about in verses 36-38, they have just as much faith as the other people. Even though they might not have been rich or ruled a kingdom. The Bible says that these people who had enduring faith, "the world was not worthy of them." You may not have a huge ministry. You may not come from a Christian family. You may be struggling with a lot of sin. You may be struggling financially. Maybe you are having a huge battle with cancer, or trying to raise 3 children by yourself, or trying to hold on to a crumbling marriage, or battling a drug addiction. That is okay. Endure!!! Keep your faith and trust in Jesus no matter what. Yea, they are probably not going to have a big Christian book written about you like Mother Teresa or whoever. You probably won't be given a huge applause at your church just because you are raising 3 children by yourself while trying to work 2 jobs. But if you keep your faith.... then God will say that the world was not worthy of....YOU!!! We walk by faith, not by sight.