Read Hebrews 10:32-39.
Although Hebrews is a lesser-known New Testament text, you’ve probably heard Hebrews 11:1 from the pulpit, at the dinner table, in a thoughtful Hallmark card, or from the lips of a supportive friend in the midst of a difficult season. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. In the preceding passage from chapter ten, the unknown author of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of “earlier days” involving suffering and persecution to an unknown audience, likely of suffering Jewish and Gentile women and men who were tempted to renounce their faith. Scholars tell us that the word “conviction” is best understood and interpreted as “evidence.” This seems like a bizarre definition of faith by twenty-first century standards. We’ve seen the police procedurals. Doesn’t evidence imply something we can grasp and visualize? Doesn’t it demand to be seen?
More than ever before, living in these times requires an unparalleled visibility of faith. It compels us to make visible the injuries and the injustice that have been hidden by the powers that be. It invites us, as Christians, to connect with our experiences of suffering in order to become for others what Henri Nouwen has famously described as “wounded healers.” The writer of Hebrews gives us a tall order by encouraging us towards “compassion,” “confidence,” and “endurance.” These practices remind me of the famous theological trio that Paul acclaims: faith, hope, and love. Could compassion, confidence, and endurance be a foundational lens for a new era of Christianity? How might you respond to this calling in your own ministry as a child of God?
Strengthen us, O God, that out of past sufferings, we may confidently serve in the ways of your compassionate Son, Jesus Christ.
Rev. Meg Vail
Assoc. Pastor for Christian Education, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries
First Presbyterian Church Logan, UT
(Utah State University)