Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Hebrews 11—the great “hall of faith” chapter, as some have called it.
I have meditated on the faith of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph and Moses numerous times in my life, but only recently have I stopped to ponder the significance of these verses at the end of the chapter.
Verses 33-34 tell of all the amazing things God did through men of great faith: conquering kingdoms, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching fire, and escaping the sword. Then in stark contrast verses 35-38 describe men who endured great suffering.
It is popular today in some religious circles to hear that if a Christian has enough faith they will be happy, healthy, and wealthy. So were these “others” who were so destitute that they only had sheep skins to wear not men of great faith like David and Gideon? It seems very clear that by faith some men escaped the sword while others, still keeping great faith, were killed by the sword.
(Philippians 1:29) says, “…for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him, but also suffer for his sake” and John 16:33 tells us we will have trouble in this world.
As a person who suffers from daily chronic pain, passages like this bring great hope. God in his sovereignty, not we and our amount of faith or good deeds, plans out the course of our life; and for some it will involve great suffering.
We are only commanded to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) as we see demonstrated by these men “of whom the world was not worthy”. These men showed the world by their faith in suffering that Jesus is worth everything, even their lives.
Will you walk by faith trusting God’s goodness, no matter what road He has planned for you today? Read 2 Corinthians 10-12 to be challenged and encouraged by the life of Paul who endured great suffering by faith.
Guest devotion by Kari. Kari is a young wife and mother of a busy toddler. After serving as a missionary to those suffering from AIDS in Uganda, Africa she is learning personally that pain has a purpose. Learn how you can become a guest writer.