It begins with a definition of faith in verses 1-3
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Then it goes through the accounts of the all those who are example of faith. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and then it goes on to list many others.
How would you like to have your name written as an example of faith? Quite the honor. I think we all picture in our minds the praise that goes along with such an honor. I know that is where my mind first goes, to the reward. Oh, to be an example of faith. Or in human terms, to receive a Gold medal, or a world championship.
How many of us think about the price paid to receive such an honor? Do you think of the suffering Joseph endured in the well? How about when he was wrongly accused and thrown in jail? How about the mocking and ridicule Noah must have taken for building an ark before there was rain? How about the pain Abraham must have felt has he prepared his only son for sacrifice? In a worldly sense how about the years of awaking in early in the morning to train for the race? How about having to sacrifice for years for the chance to have a shot at an Olympic medal. How about the hot August days of practice in hopes of playing in the Super Bowl? Could you sacrifice without a guarantee of reward? For a chance at glory? Could you believe with faith of eternity? Faith in God is not for gain, it is done in response to a gift already received, just unseen. As Hebrews says, it is substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Like an earthly sacrifice it is for delayed satisfaction but unlike an earthly reward this is for a crown in a life unseen. Hebrews 11 is about those who believed in what was unseen; they believed yet never saw the promise fulfilled in this life.
Andrea and I did a Bible study on faith and it ended with the comment that Hebrews 11:41 is your verse, the account of your faith. You see we are all examples of God's love and our lives are to be a testimony of that love. Our strongest testimony is that of faith under trial. Faith in the furnace, where two were thrown in yet three are seen. Andrea has lived a life of faith, a life of faith being written before I very eyes. We are seeing in her pages of scripture being written. Though they may not be in any Bible we read the words and experiences are written in our hearts and minds. These stories of Andrea's faith you share with a friend, a sibling, parent, or your child, these are modern day scriptures. These are encouragement to others who will certainly find themselves in a trial of their own if not in one already. I don't like the quote; misery loves company because a faith lived in misery gives hope to others. Out of desperation for God we give hope to others. No one wishes someone else their misery. Andrea's prayer is that none of you ever have to see and Oncologist. Her prayer is also that if you do, you will know God is by your side as is with her.
This is Andrea's Hebrews 11:41.
By faith Andrea withstood cancer. By faith she lives everyday when life told her she should quit. By faith she encourages those around her. By faith she lays in the ICU, without complaint, never a tear, always full of hope. By faith she worshiped her God in pain. By faith she thanked God for His blessings and mercy. By faith she trusted in her God when life told her she was abandoned.
I know many of you feel Andrea is someone special; I am counted as one of them. But she is no different then you or I. We all possess the ability to be a giant of faith. Because faith is not a human quality we learn or gain through a conference. Faith is a gift for God, born through life and difficulty. From a faithful God who gives when we ask, a God who looks for us to respond in faith to life’s event each and every day.
We are all called to write the verse Hebrews 11:41 with our own name. Next time you stop and pray for Andrea and reflect on her witness remember to say a prayer for your own witness and for each other. Don't be afraid that God will ask you to endure what Andrea has had to go through. The enemy will try to convince you who don't have the ability to do it in hopes you will do nothing. Remember everyday you have the chance to be an example of faith. Everyday you offer a prayer in faith before your children you write a verse. Every time you praise God when life's event don't turn out the way you want you write a verse. Every time you live your life in obedience to God you write a verse. Every time you have faith in the unseen, you write a verse. Each time you become an example of faith to someone else, maybe even someone you don't know or will never even meet, just knowing God is using you as a witness.
I know it is not easy, the work behind the reward never is, but it is always worth it. Ask someone as they celebrate the Super Bowl victory if the practices in August were worth it. Ask the athlete listening to his national anthem with a Gold medal around his neck if years of practice was worth it. Ask Noah if the mocking was worth it. Ask Joseph if the years in jail were worth it. I think they will all tell you the same thing. Looking back on it absolutely yes. The only difference is the accounts in Hebrews are eternal. Their reward though unseen in this life will never fade, or rust. They will wear it for eternity.
Ask Andrea if lying in this bed is worth it after I read her all your emails of how you are affected by her faith. I will tell you her answer, she smiles back at me. She is a life poured out into you and she smiles when she sees it bear fruit.
She smiles because she knows you are growing eternally and that is a gift that will only multiply. The saying should be Faith loves company. Because when others join you in faith we encourage each other and our faith only grows. When we face a trial, it is the faithful that join with you and offer hope, just as you are doing right now. And as you join with Andrea you write your own verse of Hebrews 11:41. Just insert you name in the blank.
By faith ______ believed in spite of the medical reports. By faith ______ lifted up Andrea’s name before the Father. BY faith ___________ trusted in the Lord, when the waves of adversity came crashing in.