"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:32-35
The author recognizes that most of these to whom he writes had already given proof of true faith and genuine birth. Their early Christian years were marked by love and joy and hope, despite hardships and persecution. They had followed Christ at cost to themselves. They had submitted themselves to the Lordship of Christ, even when their own will would have been different. That is the mark of reality, the proof of faith. They cheerfully and compassionately accepted the persecutions, deprivations, and hardships that came their way. They took Christ's yoke upon them, obeyed his Lordship, and manifested it by love and good works. They were living by faith.
You can do these things only when you live by faith. When you have accepted God's word and recognized that Christ is who he says he is, that the history of the world is going to turn out as he says it is, and that the values of life are what he says they are, then, and then only, can you do this kind of thing. They just need to do one more thing — keep on! That is all. They are doing the right thing, just keep on doing it. The road will end at the dawning of a new day and the coming of the living God.
Does your way sometimes seem hard and difficult? Is it, perhaps, often lonely and exposed to the reproach of others? Do not despair, do not give up. That pattern has been predicted. If you live by faith; if you accept what this word says as true, and you see that it is working out in history exactly as God said it would; if you are counting on his strength to bring about all that he promises; if you thus live by faith, then, though it be through perils and dangers, you will arrive for "…the just shall live by faith”, (Romans 1:17 KJV). Not by circumstances, not by outward appearances, but by faith in what the Word of God says. You need only to continue to reach the goal, to endure. It could well be translated, in modern parlance, by the word toughness.
In Hebrews 11, there are some illustrations of men and women who have lived by faith. These are the tough people of history. They have endured, they have toughed it out, they have stuck it out. They faced all the pressures, all the problems, all the confusing duplicity of life, but, because they had their eye fixed on One who never changes, they were tough; nothing could move them aside or divert them. That is what the apostle is calling for, that inner toughness which meets life steadfastly, unshakably, is never driven off its position of faith. It constantly meets every encounter, every challenge by resting upon the Word of God.
Teach me, Lord, to live by faith, even when all seems to be going wrong in my life.
Life Application: If or when the integrity of our faith is tested by hardships and persecution, does it qualify? Are we then alert to others' needs for encouragement so that we may stand side-by-side regardless of the circumstances?