Faith: The Assurance of Things Hoped for, The Conviction of Things Unseen
I see beyond the colors of the sunrise. I watch how the afternoon shadows change the depth and texture of the Rocky Mountains that tower to the West. I look at my daughters as they laugh with eyes that light up with something transcendent behind them, and I know there is something meaningful behind these mesmerizing things. I sense the temporality of life and the reality of death in a time unknown to me; is it today, a year from now, 80 years from now? How can I know what is coming but not understand it? How can it be so out of my control? My heart will one day stop, but while it beats and my body lives and moves and thinks with complex systems outside of my understanding, I know that it can’t just be for nothing when it comes to an end. The complexities of nature, of loss, of human relationships, of good and evil, they are all a part of something. It can’t be merely physical; it can’t be a crazy, meaningless accident.
I could try to look within myself for the answers, but how can someone who is only a creation muster up some kind of truth behind it all? Truth isn’t something that can be changed, and life isn’t something to which we can create the answers, because we are simply a part of it all. There is something beyond us, and this is something that is sensed through the spiritual facet of our beings. The grief of a loss or joy of watching a child grow isn’t something that can be measured or understood in a research laboratory. There is something more.
But when the gospel reaches your ears, when you hear about the life of Jesus and a God who created the world and loves us, some of these unknown parts of life start to have meaning. The fact that we don’t know everything begins to make sense. But what is the connection between reason and unknown? What is the gray area that unites physical and spiritual, us and the God of the Bible? It is the concept that we call faith. Hebrews 11:1 and 3 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Faith is the thing that makes us okay with the unknown and the answers we’ll never know; since God is the Creator and source of all things, we can trust in His all-knowing, all-loving presence that the Bible teaches us. Like our eyesight helps us see, and our ears help us hear, faith is the sense which helps us see invisible things; faith is the sense that hears the voice of God through His Word and believes it to be true. David Guzik’s commentary on Hebrews 11 says this: “Faith does not contradict reason, though it may go beyond reason. One may objectively prove the Bible is the most unique book ever published and has impacted society more than any other book. But only faith can prove that the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, this is a belief beyond reason but not in contradiction to reason or against reason” (Guzik).
Faith in a Christian context means relying on something outside of ourselves, and that something is God and His Word. It is the belief that Jesus is who He says He is. Faith takes both humility and trust because it surrenders the idea that we have the answers or that we are the source of anything of meaning. While we have meaning, we are not the source of it. God is the one who gives us purpose and significance, and even life for that matter. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Life in Jesus is a gift and not of our own doing. We have to surrender the idea that we are naturally morally good, that we have the answers, and that we can earn salvation through our actions. God first offers us His grace, and it is by faith that we accept it because we cannot physically see it.
2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV) says, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” There is an important little phrase in there, and that phrase is “in increasing measure.” This means that our faith has the capability of growing, and should grow, or it will lead to “ineffectiveness and unproductivity” in our relationship with Jesus. So how do we grow our faith? If we gain faith through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), then the more we hear the more we will grow. The more we read and study the Word of God, the more evident and present His truth and voice will be in our lives. The verses in 2 Peter go hand in hand with James 1:22 which says “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” So, when we hear the Word, and we live the way Jesus commands us to and lives Himself, then we will grow in our faith. Where something can grow, it can also shrink or wither. It is important to stay connected through the Word, because if we allow the voice of the world or our own self to become louder, it allows Satan to have an easy in to alter our perspective on reality.
A big part of staying connected to the Word of God, as well as growing in our faith, is staying connected with other believers. We cannot do life alone. Isolation makes it impossible for accountability, encouragement, and growth. Isolation is a poor environment for a growing faith, whereas on the flipside our faith has the opportunity to flourish in authentic community. (Verses on the importance of biblical community: James 5:16, Proverbs 17:17, 27:17, Hebrews 10:24-25)
It’s important to know that in our faith, it’s okay to have questions and not understand everything. There are going to be times it’s hard to trust God, and there are going to be times we have doubts. Our world is filled with so much evil that is hard to understand; God is love, and the unconditionality of it is so much bigger than our understanding. There are going to be things that we physically cannot comprehend. God wants us to bring our questions and doubts to Him. He doesn’t want us to hide because of them: this is a scheme from the Enemy. Mark 9:24 (NIV) gives us a relatable example of a prayer we can pray: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Faith means relying on God for the things we cannot comprehend, and believing what the Creator says rather than what creation says. Faith is the lens that allows us to see things unseen and experience things deeper than our understanding. Life is filled with experiences that us humans will never be able to fully explain or comprehend. Life is a combination of shatteringly painful, intensely joyful, and even complacently mundane moments. Faith is the concept and experience that helps us understand there is something beyond understanding: an assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen.
Questions to consider:
What doubts or hard questions are hindering your faith that need to be brought to Jesus?
What hard things has faith helped you to understand or to trust God in (past or present)?
Are you surrounded by community (through community group, mentorship, Bible Studies, accountability partners, etc.) to help strengthen your faith?
Guzik, D. (2022, October 27). Enduring word bible commentary Hebrews chapter 11. Enduring Word. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/hebrews-11/