February 21, 2014
READ: Hebrews 10:32-39
But we do not belong to those who shrink back (v.39 NIV).
In Indonesia scientists have located remains of an ancient people that may have—over the years—shrunk due to what they call “island dwarfism”. The researchers have used the name hobbit to identify the remains. Though hobbits are fictitious creatures, we’re naturally curious about what might cause humans to grow smaller.
The writer of Hebrews wrote his words to a community of believers that were experiencing much pain and hardship, but were not shrinking in their faith. Though facing “terrible suffering”, they had remained true to their faith in God (Hebrews 10:32). The writer provides a litany of the great hardships they endured: “Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things” (v.33). Many had been killed. Many were thrown in jail. Many had their possessions and livelihoods ripped away. Yet they “knew there were better things waiting” for them, and they endured temporary persecution even as they leaned towards eternal joy (v.34).
As we know, however, pain wears down the soul. Over the years, the body and the mind grow weary. We often carry the brunt of disappointment when God’s rescue is delayed or His promises seem vacant. To those of us enduring those challenges, Hebrews encourages us to take heart: “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord,” the writer says. “Patient endurance is what you need now” (vv.35-36).
Weariness and doubt are part of the human struggle. But as we keep our heart fixed on the promise and joy of God, we affirm that we’re not those “who turn away”. We don’t grow smaller in our faith. Rather, we’re the ones who trust in the One who saves (v.39). —Winn Collier
Read Habakkuk 2:3-4, which is the section of Scripture quoted in Hebrews 10:37-38. What is the message for those who experience God’s promises as “slow in coming”?
Where is your faith being most tested? How are you being tempted to shrink back? What encourages you to stand tall for what you believe?