Scripture: Hebrews 10:38-39
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Reject unbelief and pick up the shield of faith.
I told you in Day 1 of this devotional that I recently wanted to shrink back because I was discouraged and felt powerless to help a friend. This situation with my friend has been one of the most heart-wrenching things I have ever experienced, and what I share in this devotional today is probably the main thing that I’ve wrestled with in my faith this year.
A few months ago, I spent a few days grieving and crying because of the pain my friend’s choices were having on herself, her family, and even on me. But then as I was praying for her one night, I felt the Lord ask me, “Why are you grieving as if you have no hope?”
This is a reference to a verse I know from 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It usually applies for Christians who are grieving the death of their loved one, but they have hope in eternal life in the loss.
But for me, even though I wasn’t grieving a death, my grief was still real. That night God gently asked me, “Why are you grieving as if you have no hope? Do you really not believe that I can redeem this situation? I have already told you I will do this.”
Maybe it’s easier to cry than it is to believe. Of course, it’s appropriate to grieve for a time, but it’s not appropriate to grieve without hope. I realized that I was adding unbelief to the burden, and that was only making the burden heavier.
So I told God that I would not add my unbelief to this mess. Instead, I would believe, even if others couldn’t. I would thank God for what He’s going to do even before He does it, and I will pray in faith that God will bring redemption for my friend.
And when I said this to God and made this commitment, it felt like I was taking a step into faith.
Our next verse in our study is Hebrews 10:38. It says, “’But my righteous one will live by faith.”
What does it even mean to “live by faith”?
I’m reminded of the example of Peter on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of the storm. Jesus was walking on the water towards Peter, and Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you, bid me to come.”
Jesus said, “Come.” Then Peter lived out his faith by taking a step out of the boat and walking on water. Peter models for us that faith is taking action on what we believe.
I think I’ll be studying what it means to “live by faith” for my whole life.
But right now, this is what I’m learning about what it means to live by faith: It means I won’t add unbelief to my burdens. I know that Satan wants to attack us with emotional burdens, like what I was feeling with my friend, and Satan wants us to doubt that God cares about the situation. I believe that often God is trying to reveal to us parts of His plan, and in His mercy, give us hope that He will work all things out for good for those who love Him. But Satan wants us to doubt God’s love and involvement in our lives.
When we choose to fix our faith on God instead of on the doubts that Satan is throwing at us, we are winning spiritual victories.
It’s difficult. I’m reminded of the verse…. “Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief.”
Hebrews 10:38 continues, “And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back…”
Whenever I used to read that verse, I would think, Ouch. I thought that God saw my timidity and was angry with me.
But now I believe that maybe this verse doesn’t really mean that God is angry with us for our lack of faith. Maybe this verse lets us understand that it doesn’t give God pleasure because just like any good father, it hurts His heart when He sees us deflated, defeated, sobbing, grieving without hope. He wants to see us trusting Him, not cowering in despair.
And the truth is that He has not left us alone in our sorrow. He has promised to be with us and to be our Comforter.
The truth is also this: He has not left us without defense. He has given us the instruction to take up the shield of faith.
In Ephesians 6:16, the Apostle Paul tells us that the shield of faith “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” We know from this verse that Satan will send flaming arrows into your life, causing little fires in your mind and all around you to distract you and exhaust you. But as we just discussed, you are NOT without defense; you can take up your shield of faith and continue to walk in faith. According to Ephesians 6:16, this act of faith will extinguish not one, not just a few, but ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one.
In her study The Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer says it this way: “[Satan] knows that if you’ll ever push past the insecurity or doubt or fear that’s burning in your soul, choosing instead to believe the truth of God and walk in accordance with it, you’ll erect a shield of protection that will smother his plans.”
This causes me to ask myself: Why would I wallow in fear and unbelief if I can take up my shield of faith and extinguish all the flaming arrows as I move forward in my life?
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack tool is for us to Reject unbelief and pick up the shield of faith. God bless you as you move forward in faith.
P.S. My boxes of books came in the mail over the weekend. Now there are boxes in my house, boxes in my car, and boxes in my office at my church. I can’t wait for you to get yours!
 Bill Johnson.
 Shirer, Priscilla. (2015). The Armor of God. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press. p. 133
Scripture: Hebrews 10:36-37
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Persevere with hope and patience.
Perseverance isn’t my favorite topic. I’d rather talk with my friends about the big moments when there was a breakthrough in our lives—when there was a birth or a wedding or a clear revelation from God.
But when I’m driving to dinner with my friends, more often than not, we don’t have a ton of big moments to discuss. We live in the generation where beautiful selfies flood our phones, but our lives aren’t glamorous or exciting like a celebrity’s Instagram account. Of course, we have times of celebration, but for the most part, our lives—just like yours—are about waiting and working hard.
For the most part, we spend our dinner conversations encouraging each other to hang on, to carefully discern which decisions to make, and to choose unselfishness instead of complaining.
Perseverance keeps popping up in the bible passages I study and in the great examples of faith I read. Like I said, perseverance isn’t my favorite—it isn’t glamorous or exciting. But here’s the thing: I’m now convinced that IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE BY FAITH WITHOUT PERSEVERING.
Yesterday we talked about not throwing away our confidence, and in Days 1 & 2, we looked at the hardships the original audience of Hebrews was facing. We also identified discouragements we have in our lives. What situation are you in right now that is difficult for you to persevere through?
As the author of Hebrews embellishes on the theme of confidence in these few paragraphs, he points out the importance of perseverance. In fact, in the very next verse, Hebrews 10:36, he tells us,
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Here’s a simple way for us to remember how to persevere. Tom Wright writes that the main argument the author was making in these chapters of Hebrews is for the people to have confident hope and patience. I believe that hope and patience are key elements of perseverance.
So I propose this equation:
Perseverance = Hope + Patience
What do you think? Is that a good description for perseverance?
Hope: When we are clinging to our hope in Jesus, we are able to remember that God can restore what has been torn down, and He can redeem what seems to be ruined. Ultimately, we remember that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we remember that Jesus will wipe every tear away. When we hang onto this hope, we can keep going.
Patience: But you and I know that perseverance is required not just for any difficult situation, but for those difficult situations that keep dragging on without a resolution in sight. Perseverance is needed after the zeal has worn off. Perseverance requires patience. Being patient means that we trust God’s timing even when we want a different schedule. Being patient means trusting that God is doing something good while we are waiting and working.
As you think about persevering in the will of God, what do you need more of today—hope or patience?
If you chose HOPE, know that there is no shortage of verses about hope in the Bible, so take your pick.
If you chose PATIENCE, then please read these verses about patience.
Because today’s #WeWontShrinkBack tool is Persevere with hope and patience, let’s take a minute to ask God for more hope and more patience. I encourage you to take a few minutes to ask God to help you persevere through your situation.
P.S. One week until copies of my book are available! :) You can download Chapter 1 for free.
 Wright, Tom. (2004.) Hebrews for Everyone. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.