Hebrews 11:33-38, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises…escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle…And others were tortured…were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword…”
Recently I was talking to a man who spoke these words to me, “you know, faith is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but it’s always right.” This man spent years in suicidal depression, addictions and joblessness, but Christ and a proper view of faith changed this man’s life.
As Christians, we sometimes lie to people. In our efforts to comfort them in trials, we attempt to convince them that if they will just draw closer to Christ and increase their faith, that somehow their problems will go away. This is absolutely unbiblical. Though God can change circumstances, many times he does not. What God is trying to change is our way of thinking and attitude toward our circumstances.
In our passage we see that there are two groups of faithful people with very different outcomes. Group one saw great success (subdued kingdoms, became valiant, etc.) while the second group did not fair so well (tortured, stoned, sawn in two). Yet we are told that both these groups had great faith. Group one saw God’s victory over its circumstances while the other saw God’s value under its circumstances.
How so? They understood that standing strong in the midst of terrible circumstances and trusting God even to the point of death was much more valuable than anything offered in this world.
That is true biblical faith. A faith where we don’t define God by our circumstances but by His holiness and our willingness to be used by Him in any way He sees fit, even to the point of death.