Wouldn’t it be great to make the hall of fame? Not Canton or Cooperstown, but Hebrews 11? The great names of Noah, Abraham, Moses are all there. Then there are the others . . .
Women received their dead raised to life again (the widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17?). Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection (it is unknown who this describes. But there are references to such people in the Maccabean literature). Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment (it is unknown who this describes; it could describe many). They were stoned (like Zechariah 2 Chronicles 24), they were sawn in two (no record of this in the Old testament or Apocrypha Literature, except for a rumor about Isaiah), were tempted, were slain with the sword (like the prophets by Ahab 1 Kings 19).
They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy (John the Baptist). They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:35-40).
Some Hall of Fame! Most of the people mentioned are not known by name but by the terrible things they endured. We are only generally sure of their names in some cases; in others, their names will never be known again on earth.
It is fitting that in faith’s hall of fame there be a monument to the unknown solders, for there can be no greater hope for most of us than to become one. A few decades after we die few will remember our name. A hundred years after our death, no one will remember our name . . . except God.
If the scrutiny of God has always been more important to us than the scrutiny of people, then it will be enough for Him alone to know our name. Who will ever appreciate our pain and gifts of service given in secret? Who will ever be thankful for our sincerity and love demonstrated beyond the glare of the public spotlight? GOD DOES. . . and that is not a bad audience.
A WIDOW’S FAITH
2 Kings 4:1-7
She was a widow. The arms of strength that once held her now lay rigid and cold in death. His voice of love and affections had been silenced by the grim reaper of life. There was an empty chair at the table, a vacancy in her bed and a deep void in her heart. The days stretched into forever and the nights were bathed in tears. There would be no togetherness in retirement years, no quiet walks at evenings, no aged reminiscing of the days of youth. Who can measure the pain, the hurt, the aloneness of the loss of a mate?
She was a widow in debt. There was no pension, no social security, no IRA account. She had no resources for the present, no savings for the future and no means of quenching the avaricious thirst of her creditor. Not content to just have one of her sons, he threatened both with bondage for her debt.
She was a widow with children yet at home. At best, parenting is a difficult and demanding experience. Even in a home blessed with both parents, the daily routine of child rearing is not an easy task. Now she was alone, a single parent striving to fulfill a dual role. Gone was the strong, masculine, fatherly influence so needed by her sons. Blessed are parents who live to see their children grown and on their own.
She was a widow with great faith. She could have argued with the prophet. His proposed solution was so contrary to human wisdom. Instead, she acted immediately on his word. That is what faith is all about, taking God at his word and doing what he says. No argument, no debate, no I think, I want or I wish, just simple, childlike compliance with what God says.
The stream of life does not always flow in the mold of human design. There is the unexpected, the unplanned for, the feared. However, the trials of life were no match for the resolute faith of the widow. May we all strive for just such a faith as will enable the precious oil of divine blessing to continue its onward flow.
NEVER FEAR . . . TRUST GOD
I know you have heard the story of the Chinese who had one horse and one son. One day the horse broke out of the corral and fled to the hills. All of the neighbors came around that night and said, “Your horse got out? What bad luck.” “Why,” the old Chinese said, “How do you know it’s bad luck?” Sure enough, the next night the horse came back to his familiar corral for his usual feeding and watering, leading twelve wild stallions with him! The farmer’s son saw the thirteen horses in the corral, slipped out and locked the gate. The neighbors heard the good news and came excitedly to the farmer, “Oh, you have thirteen horses! What good luck!” And the old Chinese man answered, “How do you know that’s good luck?”
A few days later the young son was trying to break one of the wild stallions only to be thrown off and break a leg. The neighbors came back saying, “Your son broke his leg. What bad luck!” And the wise father said, “How do you know its bad luck?” Sure enough, a few days later a Chinese war lord came through town and conscripted every able-bodied young man, taking them off to war, never to return again. But the young man was saved because of his broken leg.
There is one thing we all desperately need to learn: Only God knows what’s good for us and what’s bad for us. And with that in mind we must learn to trust God.
Do you remember the last night Jesus spent with his disciples? The twelve were wrestling with desperate despondency and doubt. They were few in number, had no allies, no wealth, no credentials and no references. They had come to the city of Jerusalem with foreboding. The night streets were tense. Angry men lurked in the shadows. Religious leaders (yes, religious leaders) were seeking the death of their master. There were so many things of which to be afraid, and what did Jesus say to his followers? “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God . . .” (John 14:1). That’s it! TRUST IN GOD!
Remember that Jesus never preached anything that He didn’t practice. I am glad that Peter saw fit to remind us that Jesus took his own medicine. “He trusted in him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23). Why shouldn’t we do the same?
John Gipson Via Forrest Park Church of Christ 7 31 1988