All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
I love this. Right in the middle of the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11 we see such an amazing description of lasting faith. There are so many shocking statements here, not the least of which is this:
They did not receive the things promised….
Their faith lasted. They had faith even to the point of death even though they did not receive the things promised. They could only see them in a distance.
We live in a world where the goodness of God is questioned when someone stubs a toe or suffers from a cold. Faith is challenged when a mom dies from cancer or when an earthquake wipes out thousands. And people often find themselves fearing thoughts of “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I could view the pain of gallstones (8 straight hours of pain that pushed me to the point of near insanity) and the breakdown of my car in the past few days as something bad, or I can rejoice in the Lord.
This post isn’t about the issue of judging good and bad – one of the greatest lies – but so many of our questions can be answered through lasting faith and through a recognition of the fact (by faith) that our judgment of what is good and what is bad simply cannot approach God’s Truth of what is Good and Evil.
I also think it is important to remember that questioning God is good! When our faith is challenged it is infinitely better to ask God about it than to try to find the answers from the world or ourselves. So many of the biblical heroes and prophets often questioned God’s goodness and the circumstances they or their people faced. In that place of seeking, God answered, and through their penned angst we have many beautiful and inspiring passages of Scripture by which we can live.
Oh to see things in the distance – not this lifetime, but the eternity beyond. While my body is decaying, my spirit is not. God is transforming me, molding me more into the original image He had for me and one day, yes, one day, all will be complete. And while I will face troubles innumerable and diverse in this life, I can stand with my family of faith and say that i will see the goodness of the Lord in this life and beyond.
Like David prayed,
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.