The proof of what we don’t see

Posted Jan 10, 2022

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Daily Scripture

Hebrews 11:1, 8, 39

1 Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going.

39 All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith.

Reflection Questions

“Faith” does not mean never having doubts. Over 90% of respondents to Pastor Hamilton’s survey report facing times of doubt. Hebrews 11 defined “faith” as trusting despite causes for doubt, saying, “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” It described the patriarch Abraham’s great faith. But Genesis said his next act was a deceitful act born of fear (cf. Genesis 12:1-4, 10-13). Trusting “what we don’t see” can never totally exclude doubt.

  • Oxford scholar Alister McGrath wrote, “Coming to faith doesn’t mean merely having a new idea. It means recognizing in our minds who God is and what he is like, and responding to him in our hearts.” * What experiences or people have helped you to move beyond thinking of God as just a big idea to knowing God as a loving, personal being you trust, obey and are committed to?
  • What are some of the most beautiful sights you’ve seen, or deepest loving relationships you’ve had? Was their beauty or love something you could “prove” with abstract logic, or did you need to take the risk of experiencing and trusting them? Scholar Leon Morris noted, “There are realities for which we have no material evidence, though they are not less real for that. Faith enables us to know that they exist.” ** What are one or two realities beyond “proof” that make your life better?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you call me to trust that your spiritual world truly is more real, joyful and free than the material world that’s always tugging at my heart. Keep growing that faith deep within me. Amen.


* Alister McGrath, “I Believe”: Exploring the Apostles’ Creed. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 1997, p. 22.

** Leon Morris, comment on Hebrews 11:1 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Abridged: New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994, p. 993.


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Yvonne Gentile

Yvonne Gentile

Yvonne Gentile serves on the Church of the Resurrection staff as the Guest Experience and Event Management Lead Director. She directs the team that helps people get welcomed and connected into the life of the church.

(A winter wave of illness is limiting the availability of some of our regular Insights writers. Fortunately, Yvonne Gentile wrote this post about Hebrews 11 in July, 2013, and we're glad to be able to share it again.)

When I read the names listed in Hebrews 11 as great examples of faith, I’m awed by the depth of their faith in God despite their often-difficult circumstances. That deep and abiding trust in God didn't just happen--it took effort on their part. They didn’t just know about God-–they knew God. They spent time in God’s presence, worshiping, talking, and sometimes even arguing with God. Their faithful trust in God grew as a result of the relationship they developed.

I want, I long for, that kind of deep and abiding faith for myself. Saint Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you.” I think that’s true; there is an internal yearning of our souls to know and trust in God. I believe God yearns for that kind of relationship with us, too-–that God wants to be known and takes action to reveal his character and nature to us.

For me, God is revealed most vividly through nature and through Scripture. This past Thursday morning, I stumbled out of bed, came downstairs groggily to get coffee, and was immediately irritated to find a mess created by my aging dog. As I opened the back door to let the dog out, grumbling the whole time, I was greeted by a sunrise so glorious–-awash with pinks and violets and gold-–that it took my breath away. I felt it was God’s way of saying to me, “Despite your present irritation, there is beauty and love waiting for you today.”

I’m building some habits and practices to help me know God better: going to church, reading my Bible, praying, and lately I’ve been trying to journal. I’ll admit I’ve struggled with journaling in the past. I must have a dozen or more journals that I’ve written 2-3 entries into and then set aside. This time it seems to be sticking. I’m just writing my prayers out, a few paragraphs each morning after I read my Bible. I write my questions about faith, admit my personal doubts and fears, and include my joys and concerns. Thursday’s entry started with gratitude for the sunrise which reminded me that despite the petty annoyances I face daily (and even in the midst of serious life problems), beauty and love are waiting for me in the presence of God.

My faith practices sometimes come in fits and starts, but they’re growing more consistent over time. I feel I’m getting to know God better each day and laying a foundation of trust that will sustain me when I do face significant hardship. My relationship with God is a work in progress, so I am encouraged by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who died in a Nazi concentration camp, who said: “While it is good that we seek to know the Holy One, it is probably not so good to presume that we ever complete the task.” Knowing God is a lifelong journey.

My prayer for you is that you also grow towards knowing God and developing a faith that sustains you in all circumstances.

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