PERSEVERING FAITH IN DIFFICULT TIMES
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
The past few weeks have been a challenge for us in Singapore with the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our nation. We grieved with the families of those who had succumbed to the virus and we stay vigilant to combat the virus together. As Christians, we have certain spiritual realities which would enable us to persevere during such times. One of which is ‘persevering faith’.
Hebrews addresses second generation Christians who were undergoing persecutions, to encourage them to persevere in their faith. Hebrews 11:1 is not a definition of faith per se, but a description of the key aspects of the faith of the Old Testament (OT) saints as their examples. These OT saints had persevered in their faith and they now testify as a “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Like Abel, the OT saints, even though dead, still speak.
Hebrews used two important terms to describe that faith: the first is “substance” (Greek. hupostasis). It is a more accurate translation than “assurance” as the root word means “a solid foundation that stands under the feet.” In Greek philosophy, it refers to “reality” in contrast to mere “appearances”. Our faith is not a subjective feeling but the reality of the things hoped for. The second term is “evidence” (Greek. elenchos) or “proof” of the things not seen, which will unfold in God’s appointed time. These two terms, “reality” and “proof”, indicate that Christians can have the full certainty of future realisation, as well as to give the ability to persevere and endure the difficult times in our lives. We have access to a firm reality to which we can hold fast. In our Christian journey, to have faith means that we can stand on solid ground rather than “shrinking back” because we have an “unshakeable kingdom” (Hebrews 12:28).
We take our ultimate example from our Lord Jesus, “…who endured from such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:3).
Rev. Dr Timothy Chong