Ep.261: When Faith Doesn’t Work.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.

Hebrews 11, the great chapter about faith, says: 

   What more shall I say?
  I do not have time to tell about
    Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,
    who through faith
          conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;
    who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of flames,
            and escaped the edge of the sword;
    whose weakness was turned to strength. . .

  There were others who were tortured,
    refusing to be released so they might gain a better resurrection.
    Some faced jeers and flogging, chains and imprisonment.
    They were put to death by stoning; they were sawn in two;
                they were killed by the sword.
    They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,
            destitute, persecuted and mistreated—
            the world was not worthy of them.
                – Hebrews 11:32-38a

There it is: two sides of faith. One is a glorious and victorious side, where the faithful do mighty works to conquer kingdoms, escape death, and turn weakness into strength. 

And then there’s the other side, where the faithful are abused, punished, imprisoned, and killed. 

Which faith outcome do you prefer? Do you think God presents a smorgasbord of options so you can choose your own meal? 

The prosperity gospel emphasizes one part of faith. It says that by faith you can become “all God intends you to be”. Live inspired. Reach your dreams. Don’t associate with naysayers and doubters. Let faith lift you to success and happiness and wealth. 

Fortunately, Hebrews tells the rest of the story. Some by faith faced jeers and flogging, chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword; destitute, persecuted, mistreated–the world was not worthy of them (vv. 37-38).   

I try to live in a safe zone between these two options, these extremes. A place of North American riches. . .but not too rich. A place of comfort. . .but not too comfortable. A tolerant society where I am not persecuted for my faith. A peaceful life where I don’t try to conquer kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, or quench the fury of flames. 

How does that old doggerel go? 

  The high soul takes the high road and the low soul takes the low,
  And in between on the misty flats, the rest drift to and fro.
          (John Oxenham, The Ways, paraphrased).

Let’s pray. 

Our father, we do not understand our motives. Satan accuses us, as he did Job, of following you because you’ve made our lives easy. We have tried to be faithful, but our faith has not conquered heights or faced persecution. 

Is there room in your kingdom for us average people? For those of us on the misty flats, surviving but not thriving, faithful but not outstanding, honest but not to a fault? 

The apostle Paul’s description of faith includes slaves who work for their masters, women who endure unreasonable husbands, men who try to be kind, church leaders who are helpful and sober. 

O Jesus, are these works of faith? Receive our lives as we live them, our hearts as we offer them, our goods as we give them, and our prayers as we pray, “Your kingdom come”.  


I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.  

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