For faith to be relevant, it must be the thing that we employ, it must be the thing that we rest in and stand upon even when all evidence seems to deny its relevance.
When Jairus, the ruler of the Synagogue, came to Jesus on behalf of his sick daughter, word came to him that the girl had died. At that point faith seemed irrelevant. As long as the girl was alive, Jairus reasoned that there was some hope; but when word came that she had died, Jairus could have concluded that faith could no longer help him. But Jesus quickly encouraged Jairus to stand on faith in spite of the report he had received. He told him, “Be not afraid. Only believe (Luke 8:50).” And Jairus held on to his faith in spite of the circumstances, and in the end, everything turned out all right.
In these times, when circumstances are so dour on so many levels, it might be difficult for many of us to stand on our faith in God. Yet, it is just these circumstances—our negative polarizing political environment, troubles in education, concerns about health care, poverty and unemployment—that require faith in Jesus Christ if we are to overcome. What is abundantly clear is that the world doesn’t have a clue as to how to bring these crises under control. What we need today is spiritual strength that will keep us as these storms continue to rage. And the most solid thing we can have is faith in Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews is addressing Hebrew Christians about the necessity of firming up their faith. The Church was still in its infancy—only about 40 years old. And at this fragile stage in its development, it had come under severe persecution, which was discouraging the people from continuing in the Way they had started. The situation was so dire that many had given up on Christianity and were turning back to Judaism, even though they knew that what they had found was better than what they had left behind.
It’s always discouraging when people choose to go backward instead of forward. When we choose to do that, we are opting for what we know rather than what God wants to show us through faith. It doesn’t take any faith at all to go backward, especially when we know that what we left wasn’t all that great anyhow. But it takes faith to stay the course even when things aren’t going well. Going backward is really a statement that says, “I believe more in my personal experience than I do in the Lord.” It’s an admission that, “I don’t trust God to see for me as much as I trust myself.” We will never achieve what God has for us by looking back.
There comes a time when we can’t see, when knowledge fails, when conditions change, when money can’t buy what we need. And when conditions get like that in life, it’s bad if we don’t have a faith to live by.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” Faith is what keeps us going when others are giving up; faith is our reassurance that God is not dead, nor does He sleep. And when we have faith in Jesus Christ, we know that He’s going to make something happen.