“These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.” Hebrews 11:39-40
Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith,” talks about the successes of early Christians. From Abel to the prophets, the author describes miracles, victories, and great accomplishments.
Faith Doesn’t Prevent Suffering
In verse 35, the mood changes: But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. (Hebrews 11:35-38).
Tortured. Imprisoned. Murdered. Did these people fail because they had less faith? Did unbelief lead to these unhappy endings? Not at all!
Faith Gives Strength
The believers in the Hall of Faith “placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (vs. 35). Even before Christ’s coming, these saints realized their earthly lives were short. Their suffering would be nothing compared to the glory of being with God forever. (Romans 8:18) They were “too good for this world” (vs. 38), and “commended by God for their great faith” (vs. 39). Yet, not a single one of these people is named! Those who suffered and died for the gospel are largely unknown, to this day.
Don’t Lose Heart
The last verse of Hebrews 11 tells us “That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed” (Hebrews 11:40). Remarkably, WE are part of this great story. All of Christ’s followers throughout history, including us, will gather with these biblical saints and be with Christ. What a great victory celebration that will be – the ultimate happy ending, especially for those who suffered for His sake.
So whatever is happening to you today, do not lose heart, but look forward to the day of Christ’s return — when we will meet, rejoice with, and be glorified with the now-famous saints of old.