Friday, February 27

Looking Back and Looking Forward

How do we keep the faith through difficult times?

By following the examples of the faithful ones who have already completed this race:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us.... (Hebrews 12:1)

The testimonies of the Old Testament saints spur us on to faithfulness. They looked forward to the provision God would make for them and kept the faith. They longed for something beyond this material and temporal world and trusted that God would provide it for them:

These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrew 11:13-16)

Have you ever heard that phrase "Too heavenly minded for any earthly good"? What this passage in Hebrews says is exactly opposite: It was heavenly mindedness that kept the Old Testament saints good on this earth. They understood that the physical land of promise was not the real deal and that God had something better than the earthly territory thay had left behind waiting in the wings for them--a heavenly land He had promised them.

Their testimonies are examples to us of what true faith is--trusting God to fulfill His eternal promises to us and valuing the eternal more than the temporal. And how much easier it ought to be for us, because what they could only see through longing eyes peering into the future has already invaded our world.

And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us. (Hebrews 11:39,40 NET)

The day Abraham saw through eyes of faith has come. We can look back on what has been done for us and also forward to what is yet to be given to us: inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God's power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4,5 NET)

So let us not grow weary and lose heart!