By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv
Hebrews 11:1-2 (NKJV)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In my opinion, there is no more definitive, no more precise, no more accurate description of anything, anywhere, or in any place that is defined more succinctly than the word “faith.” According to the writer of the book of Hebrews, it is the very manifestation of everything our hearts hope for, and the confirmation of what our eyes cannot see. The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines faith as something that is “believed especially with strong conviction.” In other words, faith itself is a system that encompasses everything needed to experience and see that which is believed.
Case in point; the United States is celebrating Pope Francis’ historical visit to our nation that reminded me of a statement he made that characterizes faith in the 21st century; “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.” These simple words serve as a reminder to us of the deep riches stored up in a little five letter word, “faith.”
Faith illumines our pathway, brightens our doorways, and –to coin a well-known slogan– brings good things to life. But, let me not paint faith as a panacea. Faith is not a genie in a bottle. I had faith, hoped and prayed that my father would recover from cancer, but it didn’t happen. I had faith, hoped and prayed that my job would last until I retired, but it didn’t happen. I have had faith, hoped, and prayed about so many things that did not happen that a person without faith would say, “Are you still holding on to your faith? Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (ERV). This statement, recorded in the book of Job, came from the mouth of his Job’s wife while he was going through a long period of suffering and unfulfilled expectations. He also endured the humiliating words of his friends. Faith is not a panacea! It’s difficult to have faith in the midst of reality. It’s difficult to have faith when everything around you cries out, “It ain’t happening!”
My Dad used to say, “If it were easy, anybody could do it.” I understand now that that’s why it’s called faith! Faith is the material manifestation of the things we have in our hearts. It is the confirmation of things that we cannot see with our eyes. When my father went from time to eternity, I didn’t immediately understand it, but my faith was proven. I had asked the Lord for healing, and He granted that request; there was no more pain, no more chemo therapy, no more physical limitations. I thought he would get up from the bed of affliction, but he got up in glory. When my job went in a different direction, doors opened that had only existed in my heart; providing consulting services to churches and ministries all over the country, writing inspirational and encouraging articles that touch lives all over the United States, and hosting an internet radio show that, from day one, reached across the nation and the world to vocally inspire and encourage people to walk in faith.
“Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. God was pleased with the people who lived a long time ago because they had faith like this. Faith helps us understand that God created the whole world by his command. This means that the things we see were made by something that cannot be seen.” (Hebrews 11:1-3 ERV)
It really is a matter of faith!
Be Blessed +++
Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. http://tobtr.com/s/7436671, or by phone at 626-226-1448.