Our family, being sports fans, has really missed “March Madness” and following our picks to see how they fare. Since we live closer to Spokane, Washington than to any other major college town, we have been (Gonzaga) “Zag” fans for many years and have really enjoyed watching the Zag games on television. We also root for Duke and Virginia in the ACC, largely because of coach “K” and coach Tony Bennett, and of course, we root for the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers, because our son and daughter and families live in Oregon. But this year, just as the conference tournaments were finishing up—a few to empty arenas—all sports were shut down due to the threat of the corona virus pandemic. Needless to say we, along with millions of others, have been very disappointed.
One of the highlights of the NCAA tournament comes at the conclusion as they put together video clips of game highlights showing buzzer beaters, great defensive plays, impressive slam dunks and, of course, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It is called “One Shining Moment.” As I thought about that, I realized we have a similar scene given to us in chapter eleven of the book of Hebrews where we have “God’s Hall of Faith,” listing how individuals like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets demonstrated their faith during some trying times. Moses, for example, chose to “endure ill-treatment with the people of God, (rather) than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:25,26). Hebrews 11 gives us brief glimpses into the lives of these men and women of faith scattered across the centuries.
As we read of the faith of these great men and women of God, we see that their faith resulted in action. Prior to listing what each did, it says, “by faith.” “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain…By faith Enoch was taken up…By faith Noah…prepared an ark…By faith Abraham obeyed…and went out, not knowing where he was going…By faith Sarah received ability to conceive (at age 90!)…By faith (of his parents) Moses was hidden for three months…” The author of Hebrews defines faith for us as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). And then he adds, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (v. 6).
As we face the uncertainty of the outcome of this pandemic the world is facing due to the corona virus, we definitely need to be responding in faith rather than in fear. That has become the theme of many Christian broadcasts and Bible lessons, and rightly so. As people face the possibility of health problems or even death, loss of employment, a big hit on retirement funds, disrupted schooling, attending church on line, and of course, the lack of certain products at the stores, like milk, flour, sugar and toilet paper, it is definitely a time to heed the exhortation to “walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7). “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6). Although we couldn’t see Him, we trusted what the Bible said, and received Him into our life as Savior. We are to continue walking that way—by faith in a God who is trustworthy and in His written revelation to us with all its promises which God will keep.
I remember when my wife and I were considering resigning my job at Hyster Company to join Rocky Mountain Bible Mission in Montana, I heard a Christian speaker, I believe it was Joyce Landorf, say that someone asked her, “What are people like you who live by faith going to do when times get tough?” I love her response! She said, “The question is, what are people like you who don’t live by faith going to do?” Well, I guess you are seeing a lot of that going around today—people who don’t have faith in a God who is sovereign and in control and who promised to minister to their needs and to never leave or forsake them. Such people are panicking and making some very poor choices which then affects everyone else. Now is the time for those of us who are living by faith to demonstrate our trust in a God who is both good and sovereign.
I guess everyone has faith in something, so the object of our faith is what is crucial. Our faith as believers is in the faithfulness, omniscience, and omnipotence of our gracious, compassionate heavenly Father. We can join Jeremiah, saying: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee” (Jer. 32:17). The angel who announced to the virgin Mary that she would conceive and bear a son, Jesus, the Son of the Most High, said “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Our faith is in a God who is able and who cares. That is the faith we see demonstrated by the saints listed in God’s “One Shining Moment” in Hebrews 11. I guess, in a sense, that list continues to grow—will you and I be included as men and women of faith? Now is a good time to demonstrate that kind of faith.