Verse 13 states: These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of God's promises...This statement is very contrary to our western church culture. We are taught to say it 'til we see it and when we see it somehow we think that we can measure faith by tangible means. However, here in Hebrews our list of Bible heroes never saw what they were praying for yet are respected for their faith.
Faith is not so much believing 'til we're receiving as it is holding on to what we will never be able to see. Faith is not weakened by a sick or ill body. Faith is not lessened by dire circumstances. Tragedy cannot touch faith, troubles cannot diminish faith. Now faith is... Knowing that God is...period and continuing to hold on to Him no matter what the circumstances is faith.
Peter demonstrated faith when he jumped out of a boat in a storm. Daniel demonstrated faith from inside the lion's den. Noah was carried through the flood by faith in God. Verse 36 gives us a rather serious look at faith as it says: they were stoned to death, sawn asunder, slaughtered by the sword, destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated all without receiving the promise - of the Christ. In our mamby pamby "Christian" world here in the United States we do not know anything about that yet. We are still caught up in what faith can get us - or so we think. But for real furnace walkers we understand that sustaining faith that does not make all the "bad things" go away - it simply sustains you while you walk through...still clinging to Him.
Today I will meditate on His eternal presence and how He is still with me in the fire. (Seriously - where would He go? He's omnipresent!) I'll think about holding on to Him more tightly and getting to know Him more intimately as He sustains me in the fire. Will you join me?