“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” ― Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
The word conviction makes me think. Conviction is defined as a firmly held belief or opinion. The connotation is stronger than that for me. A conviction is something I’ll not only act on but fight for. The chapter of Hebrews challenges me to live with a conviction that eternal life in heaven is real and that it is far better than anything I can imagine.
He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26 ESV)
Have you ever done anything for a reward? I did once and determined I would never do it again. I signed a contract that said I would work on a project until it was completed and at the end would receive a sizeable financial reward. The problem was that the project did not go well. I was away from home 4 nights almost every week working 12-hour days with a team that did not get along and for two bosses who despised each other. It was the most miserable year of my life and then the project was canceled. For several months before the cancellation, I was really regretting that I had signed that contract.
The problem was that the reward wasn’t big enough to justify the suffering I endured on the job. At the beginning, I thought that the reward was huge and anticipated that the job would be fun. I had faith in my company and that faith was misplaced.
Hebrews 11 describes a very different experience. The suffering and struggle are real and lifelong. Moses and all the other characters in Hebrews 11 lived convinced that regardless of what they experienced in life what would come after death would more than make it worth it. This isn’t an abstract thought to the original readers of this letter. They were daily facing the loss of property or a date in the Coliseum with a lion or gladiator. Their persecution and suffering were real. Yet most endured and remained faithful. They were absolutely convinced that eternal life in heaven with God was far better than anything they would go through here on earth.
I don’t think I’m convinced and I’m sure this is what causes me to hesitate when faced with a demanding situation. I have a good life in spite of some minor physical struggles. I need to be convinced. I need to live convinced that it is a good thing to pursue God’s reward. I need to live convinced that whatever God has in store in heaven is far better than what I have here or anything I can imagine.
What about you?