BY: ED ROCHA
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIBLE TEXT: Hebrews 11: 35b-39 (New English Translation)
“But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life. And others experienced mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed apart, murdered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (the world was not worthy of them); they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and openings in the earth. And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.”
PERSONAL REFLECTION: This time of waiting for the process of our visas to be cleared in order for my family and I to get to our new home and destiny for our lives has certainly challenged my faith in many ways.
A few days ago, meditating on the gallery of the heroes of the faith of Hebrews 11, God spoke very clear into my heart. I was trying to find an answer on how to keep my faith up in a moment of uncertainty and thought that going through the lives and examples of those like Abel, who offered a greater sacrifice, or Enoch, or Noah who with “reverent regard” constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Or even Abraham, who was obedient when he was called to leave his country and loved ones and “went out without understanding where he was going.”
I was sure that in these heroes of the faith I would certainly find an answer. But God just lead me to see the lives of the “others,” and He said something that truly challenged me: “In order to be a hero of the faith and to receive what I have promised, you need to be willing to experience what the others lived.” When I read that they were tortured, mocked, put in prison, stoned, sawed apart, murdered, afflicted, and that they wandered in deserts even though they were commanded by the faith they put into practice. In spite of all of this, the Word says that “they did not receive what was promised,” yet they occupied a noble place in the gallery of those whom through their faith pleased God. That was the moment when the question hit me very hard. “Are you willing to keep up the faith, even if you do not receive what was promised to you?” Wow! The “others” kept their faith to the end, and many of them died without receiving the fulfillment of their promises. Like verse 13 says: “These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.”
When my heart was placed correctly again, and I told God that even if I was not allowed to return to the U.S. I was going to continue follow Him, serve Him, and consecrate my whole life to Him until the day of my death, it was then that He “showed” me through His Word that “God had provided something better for me, so that I would be made perfect together, with the others and the heroes of the faith” (verse 40). Not only my faith, but my heart and emotions were fully encouraged not to throw away my confidence in God because He has great reward (Heb.10: 35). I need endurance and/or patience in order to do God’s will and receive what was promised to me (Heb.10: 36), as well as to live by faith, which is nothing other than to live being sure of what I’m hoping for will soon come and being convinced that what I don’t see now, will very soon, be a reality.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help us when we reach those moments of despair, uncertainty, of not being sure of what tomorrow will bring, to see the faith of those whom have set an example for us for today — to see that many of them even died without receiving their promises, but yet, kept their faith to the end. Allow us to see, that You are in control of everything and that all You want is for us to please You through our confidence in You and Your perfect will for our lives. In Jesus precious name we pray. Amen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pastor Ed Rocha is the husband of Sandra and father of Mishael, Gabriel, and Brian. They are all from Uruguay, South America. He considers himself in debt to the United States after he met the Lord in prison in 1986 in New York, which led him to a new life and ministry that he, along with his family, have been developing for the last 23 years. He is the most recent associate pastor of Life Assembly and Hispanic lead pastor of VIDA, the newest outreach of Life to the Hispanic Community of Mount Juliet and Wilson County.