09/27/M – Heroes by Faith

Ezekiel 29:1-21; Hebrews 11:32-40; Psalms 110:4-7; Proverbs 24:7

NT: “And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life again. Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.” (‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:32-40‬ ‭CSB)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hero as a person who is admired for great or brave acts. Heroism is conduct that is exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end. All of the men listed in this list were far from perfect. They all had failings and were flawed, yet for at least one point in their life, to some degree, they had faith in God which inspired and motivated acts of heroism. Throughout the biblical narrative there are countless men and women… normal, sometimes mediocre and very flawed men and women… who were full of faith in the word of God and the God of the word, and set their purposes aside to fulfill the higher purposes of God. By faith they became Heroes. By faith they defeated oppressors. By faith they emboldened armies. By faith the conquered nations. By faith they were unsinged in the fiery furnace. By faith they survived a pit of ravenous lions. By faith, sick people were made whole and dead children were raised to life again. All of those amazing victories were won by faith in the God who can do the impossible.

While we are quick to name victorious warriors and miracle workers heroes, there is another type of hero that often goes unmentioned: those who suffer greatly and die for a higher purpose. Faith doesn’t always guarantee a glorious victory or miraculous outcome here on earth. Many times, the result of faith is grace to endure the most unthinkable horrors with a peace that passes all understanding. Around the world, even to this day, men and women are imprisoned, enslaved, tortured and killed for their faith. Did they miss out on a glorious victory or a miraculous deliverance because of a lack of faith? Hardly. It seems to me that it takes more faith to endure than it does to win a victory or experience a “miracle.” I put miracle in quotes, because many times the greater miracle is the grace to endure persecution and still glorify God. Are those people who suffer and die any less of a hero than those who defeat enemies and are healed from diseases? The Apostle Paul was stoned, beaten, imprisoned and eventually beheaded. Was he lacking in faith? Was he lacking in heroism? Just as those nameless heroes mentioned by the writer of Hebrews, Paul endured and became very much a hero by faith. Tertullian, a second century church father, once said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” People who endure great suffering and willingly lay their lives down for the greater purpose of God’s glory are heroes, and are approved by God through their faith. And though they may not see the complete fulfillment of God’s promises in their lifetime, they will experience fulfillment in eternity.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that by grace through faith in You, the ordinary can do and become extraordinary. Help me to become, to whatever degree you call me, extraordinary by grace though faith. Help me to not become overwhelmed by what seems insurmountable, but to allow You to be glorified in and through me by faith in You and Your word. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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