Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. – Hebrews 11:1-16
In Shreveport, Louisiana in 1970 I had the privilege of praying with a young boy, about 12 or 13 years old, to receive Christ. He was wearing the proverbial coke bottle glasses, lenses that were extremely thick. Without them, he could hardly see anything with clarity. I was prompted to ask him if he would like for me to pray that his eyes would be healed. “Yes,” he said. So, we prayed. Immediately after the prayer, he took his glasses off and looked about thirty feet to his left and exclaimed, “There’s a door over there.” He couldn’t see it before even with his glasses on.
I love it when God does immediate works of power like that. If I had my way, it would happen every time I pray. However, it is relatively rare. But it does happen.
Most Biblical stories of faith are not stories of immediate demonstrations of God’s glorious power works. The Hebrews 11 faith chapter is chocked full of people of faith of whom it is written, “these all died in faith, not having received the things promised.” Does that mean that God’s promises are sometimes, and for some people, no good? Not at all. Our vision is just too short. Those folks were seeking a homeland, but not a homeland in this world. They desire a better country, a heavenly one. God has prepared for them and us a better city, the New Jerusalem that will dwell on the New Earth. We need our vision extended beyond this life.
Many of the promises that were initially written by the prophets have not yet been fulfilled because they relate to the New Earth. For example:
Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession. – Isaiah 60:11
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:22-27
I love it when God does his immediate power works in our lives, but we cannot have our faith linked to immediate power works. God’s promise to us is more long-haul than that. I am more enthused about seeing the city whose builder and maker is God, the city whose light is the Lord himself. Don’t let your faith get short-circuited by short-term difficulties. Be a long-haul believer.