Have you ever noticed that sometimes it seems as if God can be arbitrary in the way He answers prayer?
Arbitrary: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
We believe for things yet they don’t come to pass. Why?
Was our faith not sufficient? Is God unjust?
Read Hebrews 11:32-40.
Hebrews 11 is called the “faith chapter”. It tells us what real faith is:
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
It tells us that without faith, we cannot please God. It also tells us the two components of real faith:
Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Some people can honestly say that based upon what we have just read, they have real faith. Yet, why is it that sometimes it seems as if “real faith” is not rewarded?
Do you remember the list of people in chapter 11 that had faith? Do you remember the powerful things that God did in response to their faith listed in verse 33 onward?
Conquered kingdoms, gained what was promised, shut lion’s mouths, quenched flames, escaped the sword, routed armies, the dead raised. Yes, that is what we expect out of faith.
But, notice that the list of faith filled actions is not over:
Refuse release and died, subject to jeers and flogging, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, put to death, lived in caves, were destitute, persecuted, mistreated.
Hey, wait a minute! I thought faith won every battle like we saw at the beginning of the chapter?
Notice what the scripture says:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
So, the scripture is saying that those listed as having died, been subject to ridicule, flogging, those in prison, stoned, sawed in two, those living in caves – they had faith just like those who routed, gained, raised, and conquered.
Why the different outcomes?
God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
All of us are a part of a great body of believers. Some of those believers are here on earth and some are already in heaven.
No act of faith happens arbitrarily – each is a part of a great story that includes billions of other acts of faith together pointing toward the validity of the truth of God.
I can’t separate my story from the body. My story is a part of the body of Christ and the body of the truth.
What is the truth?
As well as great miracles, the truth also includes:
Sometimes faith brings trouble on me.
The last enemy to be destroyed is physical death.
My life is a living sacrifice poured out on the altar.
This earth is not heaven.
I still await the arrival of the Blessed Hope.
Sometimes, these truths are revealed in God’s people as they live in faith.
In this world of instant gratification, we often forget the truth of the Word of God.
I don’t live for Jesus in a vacuum. I live connected to a large family of believers – some alive and others in heaven – all whose lives reflect God’s truth. Remember what the scripture tells us?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Don’t get discouraged by your part of this story! God is revealing His truth through you!