Scripture: Hebrews 10:35
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Hang onto your identity in Christ and your confidence that He will be faithful to you.
A few months ago while I was eating my lunch at Arby’s, I read a story in the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter about a woman named Miriam. Miriam (31) lives in Syria and was born into a Muslim family, but she became a Christian when she was 13 after she found a Bible in her sister’s backpack and began secretly reading it. Since she was 13 years old, she has been beaten by her parents and her brother because of her faith.
I read how Miriam held onto her faith in Christ, even sharing it with her siblings, while the beatings from her own father and brother left her with head wounds, a broken finger, and a bleeding eye that was permanently damaged. But she continues to go to church, to pray with other believers, and to share what God has done for her. Even through her family’s abuse, she won’t shrink back.
The day before Miriam spoke in the interview for the article, she was beaten by her family members. But still, she said, “God has freed me from any bitterness toward them…. I love [my parents]. I reject the things they do, but I don’t try anymore to bring reason for what they do. I try to share my faith. I believe the Scripture, ‘You and your family will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). That is what I am holding onto.”
She’s continuing to love and forgive. She’s continuing to believe the promises in Scripture and share her faith. SHE WON’T SHRINK BACK.
I don’t know what I would say to Miriam if I had a chance to talk with her. I’d probably want to hug her and tell her how much I admire her.
If the author of Hebrews could talk to her, I believe he would challenge her to stay strong. He would likely say to her,
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:35)
This is what he said to the original audience when they were being persecuted for their faith. Remember the hardships they faced that we discussed in Day 1?
What Miriam models well is her confidence in her relationship with God. She is so secure in her identity in Christ that she is willing to suffer instead of forsaking it. She knows that her reward is eternal life with God. And if we have confessed our need for a Savior, placed our trust in Jesus, and surrendered our life to Him, then we also can look forward to the same reward as Miriam.
Whether we are being mistreated by our family in Syria or going through a divorce in America, whether we are caring for children with difficult behavioral problems or caring for an aging parent, we have a choice to make: Will we hang onto our confidence in God?
I think of the author of Hebrews like a coach who is grabbing us by the shoulders and looking us in the eye to say, “I know this is hard. I know you are tired and sad. But whatever you do, don’t toss your confidence in the trash as if it’s worth nothing now. Don’t discard it in the pile like jeans that don’t fit anymore.”
The author is reminding us that the story isn’t over. He says that our confidence in God will soon be richly rewarded.
What comes to your mind when you think of the word confidence?
As I was writing my book, I wanted to write about how building my house helped me to build my confidence. But I realized that the word confidence can have several different connotations. Sometimes the word confidence can be taken as relying on my own strength—some sort of arrogance or pride. But that’s not what I mean.
When I say that I hope I’ll be confident, I mean that I hope I will be confident in who God made me to be; I hope I will be confident in my season and in my values. Above all, I hope I will be confident in my God and His power, provision, and love.
Since we find the word confidence in this verse, I was curious what the original Greek word for confidence actually means. The Greek word is parrhesia, which means “free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance.”
I have listed below a few other places in the New Testament where the word parrhesia is used.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence [parrhesia] draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence [parrhesia] to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
1 John 5:14
“And this is the confidence [parrhesia] that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
I encourage you to reread those verses a few more times as you ask yourself, “How strong is my confidence in God right now?”
P.S. I received the news yesterday that my box of books should arrive to my house next Wednesday or Thursday. Hallelujah! :) Can't wait to share them with you guys! You can download my first chapter of She Won't Shrink Back for free.
 (2015). “Why I Haven’t Left Syria.” The Voice of the Martyrs: Iraq & Syria Special Field Report.
 (2015). “Why I Haven’t Left Syria.” The Voice of the Martyrs: Iraq & Syria Special Field Report.
I’m doing something a little different this week—I’m posting 7 days in a row excerpts from a devotional I wrote on Hebrews 10:32-11:6. My book’s title is inspired by Hebrews 10:39, so I hope this devotional helps us learn more of what the Bible says about not shrinking back!
Here is Day 2…
Scripture: Hebrews 10:32-35
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Remember what God has done for you in the past.
Yesterday we read about the hardships the original audience of the book of Hebrews faced. We also identified a few of our own burdens that have been causing us to feel defeated.
But we need to back up and see that the author of Hebrews writes to them (my paraphrase), “Remember your earlier days when you stood your ground. I remember it; don’t you? You’ve made it through so much, and you’re almost there.”
“Remember those earlier days…” (Hebrews 10:32)
On our days of discouragement when we want to shrink back the most, sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to remember the things God has already done for us. Satan is trying desperately for us to forget what God has done for us in the past. He wants to blind us so we can’t see back and we can’t see forward. If he can get us to forget, then he can get us to doubt, and if he can get us to doubt, then he can cause us to stay down.
If we fail to remember, then we fail to become all that God has purposed us to be.
This is why it is dangerous not to remember.
The Old Testament provides a clear example of this with God’s people, the Israelites. God delivered the Israelites out of slavery, rescued them from the abuse of the Egyptians, parted the Red Sea for them to walk through, and then led them through the desert and rained down bread from the sky to feed them each day. You wouldn’t think that the people would forget all these mighty acts, but unfortunately, the majority of them did.
But as we already established, it is dangerous not to remember. The Israelites turned their backs on God and suffered the consequences of war, oppression, and captivity.
Generations later, Nehemiah, in talking about the nation of Israel during this time, said in Nehemiah 9:16-17: “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them….But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.”
God still extended grace to the Israelites and sent them their Messiah, Jesus. But their example helps us to see that we can save ourselves a lot of heartache if we simply remember what God has done for us. We can move forward in God’s plan for our lives if we take time to remember His benefits and blessings.
Remembering is an act of worship. It helps us to draw near to God and gives us the courage to know that God is with us wherever we go.
Read Psalm 77:11-12 and Psalm 103:2-5 below.
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
And meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5)
Just like the author of Hebrews asked that group of persecuted Christians to “remember their earlier days,” I’m asking you to spend a few minutes remembering what God has done for you. Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack tool is Remember what God has done for you in the past. Because Satan wants to blind us so we can’t see back and we can’t see forward, we will intentionally look for the benefits and blessings we experienced in the past. We will remember, so that we can move forward and become all that God has purposed us to be.
I encourage you to make a list of at least ten things God has done for you in your life. Write down how you have experienced the love of God. Think back to when you first heard the good news about Jesus. Think about the people God has placed in your life, the opportunities He’s given you, the times He has met your needs. I know we all have hurtful memories of times we don’t understand why God didn’t show up in the way we wanted, but today, focus on the positive things you can thank God for.
Come back tomorrow for Day 3! Tomorrow we’ll look at Hebrews 10:35 and discuss our next #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Hang onto your identity in Christ and your confidence that He will be faithful to you.
P.S. You can download Chapter 1 of my book She Won't Shrink Back.
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.