Faith, And Its Power Of Endurance
By Andrew Murray
“…And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:35-38).
Faith has a twofold victory. In one case, it conquers the enemy or the difficulty by securing its removal or destruction. In the other, there is no deliverance from the trouble, and yet faith conquers in the power it receives to endure, and to prove that its spirit is superior to all that men or devils can do. The triumphs of faith are often seen as remarkably in those who obtain no deliverance from the threatened evil, as in those who do. After the mention of the heroes whose faith was rewarded with success, we have here the mention of those who, in the midst of suffering that was not removed, proved that their faith lifted them up above all the pains with which earth could threaten them. They were tortured, not accepting their deliverance when offered them at the price of their faithfulness, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Spiritual and eternal realities were by faith so clear and near that they reckoned not the sufferings of this present time worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed. The triumph of faith is seen as much in bearing a temporary defeat as securing a victory. The victory of the vanquished is often the highest achievement.
In these men and women, leaders in the noble army of the martyrs, rejected and despised by the world, God sees the heavenly beauty of a faith that honors Him, and that counts His will, His favor, His righteousness, as more than all earthly happiness. By faith they had such a sight of God and His good pleasure, that they could with joy sacrifice everything to secure it. By faith they could, for the joy set before them, in the assurance of a heavenly recompense, count all the pleasures of earth as less than nothing. It is one of the highest and noblest exercises of faith to suffer aright. And the blessing that comes through suffering is one of the richest rewards that faith can win.
God has given us these examples of those who by faith triumphed over the extremities of suffering, that we might from them learn how to bear our lesser trials. Their faith in extraordinary suffering must strengthen ours in ordinary. It is in the little common trials of daily life that every believer can follow in the footsteps of these saints, in the footsteps of the great Leader of our salvation. By faith alone are we able to bear suffering, great or small, aright, to God’s glory or our own welfare.
Yes, by faith alone. Faith sees it in the light of God and eternity; its short pain, its everlasting gain; its impotence to hurt the soul, its power to purify and to bless it. It sees Him who allows it, with us in the fire, as a refiner watching our purging and perfecting, as a helper of our strength and comfort. It sees that the forming of a character like that of the Son of God, maintaining at every cost the Father’s will and honor, is more than all the world can give. It sees that to be made partaker of His holiness, to have the humility and weakness and gentleness of the Lamb of God inwrought into us, and like Him to be made perfect in suffering, is the spirit of heaven, and it counts nothing too great to gain this treasure. By faith alone, but by faith most surely, we can, in the midst of the deepest suffering, be more than conquerors.
Would you please God, would you conquer sin and the world, would you be holy and perfect, would you live as the heir of heaven and eternity – then live as a person of faith, meet every trial in the spirit of a joyful faith in God; every trial will make thee more meet for, and bring thee nearer to, God’s blessed presence.
– From The Holiest of All.