Faith is not Measured by Outward Circumstances: Hebrews 11:32-38
“35) Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:35‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬
We now have the most extreme contrast found anywhere in the Bible. Hebrews 11:32-35a presents blessings beyond description, while Hebrews 11:35b-38 describes enduring persecution and torture beyond imagination. We must now pause and ask; “does faith in God lead to a mountains of blessing or a valleys of suffering?”
The answer is that faith shows up equally on both sides of the coin. Sometimes faith leads to miraculous deliverance from death while other times faith grants miraculous grace to endure the sentence of cruel death while remaining loyal to God.
This leads to the paradox of faith found in Acts chapter twelve. In the same chapter, the Apostle James was put to death with a sword while the Apostle Peter was supernaturally set free from prison by an angel. Which Apostle had more faith? The answer is that they both displayed equal faith in fulfilling Gods will and call on their life. Eventually Peter’s path also led to martyrdom.
Faith is unwavering trust in God no matter His sovereign path for your life. Paul unpacked this concept in Philippians 1:20. He was determined to live boldly for Christ and exalt Him… “whether by life or by death.” His only desire was that Jesus Christ would be glorified through him.
In Pauls case both happened just as it did with Peter. Throughout his Ministry he experienced supernatural miracles and deliverances from death, but his life eventually ended by becoming a faithful martyr.
According to Philippians 4:11-13, he was content in every circumstance. By faith he was able to endure times suffering and want, while at other times he enjoyed periods of prosperity. Verse 12 says; “… I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” His final faith proclamation is found in verse 13; “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Faith empowered Paul to live above his circumstances.
Most people will need the faith to live on both sides of the coin. There will be times of abundance and there will be times of suffering and want. The focus of faith is not the outer circumstances, but rather the inner character and attitudes despite the outer circumstances.
I must emphasize once more that the torture and treatment endured by some of God’s choicest saints as described in Hebrews 11:35-37 was beyond comprehension. They were literally mutilated because of their faith in God and by faith accepted painful death rather than turning their back on God. These were men and women of whom the world was not worthy.
I have worked with the persecuted and the underground church. Nowhere have I seen more suffering mingled with greater faith. The Church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) was very different from the Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). Faith abounded in Smyrna but was hardly found in Laodicea. More people pass the test of adversity than prosperity. As Peter said in 1 Peter 1:6-9, faith is tested and purified in the fires of life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global