I apologize that Day 6 is so much later than Day 5, but my sister's family is in town from Kansas, and I've been doing important things like eating ice cream with my 3-year-old niece. lol
Scripture: Hebrews 10:39-11:1
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack Tool: Trust God and remember the promise.
As we look at the next two verses in this passage, we see the author gets to my favorite verse and then gives a definition for faith. Because there were no chapter divisions in the original manuscript, these two verses would have flowed together.
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 10:39-11:1)
In Hebrews 10:39, the author is contrasting shrinking back with having faith. Then he contrasts the consequences of each action: being destroyed (eternity in hell) with being saved (eternity in heaven). I want to pause and say that when the author says “shrink back” here, he is likely indicating the choice people make to place their faith in the things that will make their lives easier and safer—like their money, their government, the ways of their culture that would allow them to fit in—instead of God. This is the big way to “shrink back”; it’s the act of not believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
But as I’ve considered the original command and what the author is likely meaning when he says to not “shrink back,” I’ve been convicted that I shouldn’t even have one ounce of that shrink-back mentality in me as I live my daily life. We should not let any insecurity or doubt cause us to shrink back from the full life that God has for us.
Today’s #WeWontShrinkBack tool is Trust God and remember the promise. I’ve used the word trust here because I believe trust is the essence of what it means to have faith. As we’ve already seen Hebrews 10:39, the opposite of shrinking back is having faith.
The author explains more about faith to us in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Let’s look at the two parts of this verse. Faith is…
1.) Confidence in What We Hope for
I met Laura in my first semester of college. We quickly became friends, and I admired her so much for her bold faith. She had passion to teach the Bible, to minister to teenagers, and to use her nursing education to help people who lived in poverty in South America.
Two years later, Laura lost her dad to cancer. It happened so fast. I got an email that Laura sent out to her group of friends in May, giving us the news of his diagnosis and asking us to pray. Then eight short months later, he passed away in January.
The week after she returned to campus after his funeral, I had the chance to eat dinner with her and our friend Lissa in the cafeteria. Now after the emotional whirlwind of the last several months, Laura was forced to adjust to life without her dad. And as if that wasn’t tragic enough, that month she also experienced a betrayal by her closest friend.
I looked at Laura as we picked at our trays of food. I thought about how over the past two years, I saw the undeniable mark of the Holy Spirit in Laura as she overflowed compassion, joy, and perseverance onto her friends. Even now, as she talked, I saw in her eyes some exhaustion—but I also saw the desire to not give up.
As Lissa and I listened to her, we wanted to know how we could help her during this time.
Lissa asked her, “What is it that you need most right now?”
Without hesitation, Laura replied, “Hope.” She nodded, as if agreeing with herself. She looked back up at us. “I just need to remember the hope I have.”
I decided in that moment that for the rest of the semester, I would send Laura a bible verse about hope as often as I could. There is no shortage of verses about hope in the Bible, so I chose several that I thought could encourage Laura. I wrote them on pretty paper that I borrowed from my roommate and then dropped them in Laura’s campus mailbox, week after week.
It was the least I could do. And I think it boosted me with hope as much as it did for her.
The author of Hebrews says in 6:19 that “We have this hope as an anchor for our souls.” If I asked you today, “What is it that you need the most right now?” Would you respond like Laura? Would you say “hope”?
I think of us as having two levels of hope. There’s the major hope, in which we have hope that we will have eternal life through Jesus, and we have hope that Jesus will one day return for His bride (which is the Church).
Then on another level you can be confident in the hope that…
When we are confident in our hope in God, we can continue to live by faith instead of shrinking back.
2.) Assurance of What We Do Not See
In my book in chapter 23, “Money, Money, Money, Tomorrow,” I talk about how it can sometimes feel scary to trust God more than I trust my bank account because “I can see the numbers in my bank statement, and I can see the green dollar bills in my hand, but I can’t see God.” But I think that’s what faith means: having assurance in an unseen God.
I believe Christians are called to be aware of the unseen. But sometimes life feels blurry…. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, the Apostle Paul describes for us how we cannot see the mysteries of God and life on this side of heaven:
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely” (NLT).
It’s difficult when we don’t see and understand the reasons why things happen in our lives. Yet the LORD allows us to see enough. Consider this:
Paying attention to the ways God works in our lives helps us to have an assurance of what we do not yet see. And when we have assurance of what we do not see, we can continue to live by faith and not shrink back.
P.S. I'll give an update soon on my book sales! It's been so fun to finally have you guys read it! :)
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.