Faith is something very challenging for us in our day. We live in a fast-paced culture intent on instant gratification. We think of an item that we want and we immediately search for it online. We find it at a good price. We purchase it with credit. We have it shipped to us within two to three days. When we receive that item, there are times when we no longer remember exactly why we wanted it in the first place.
We want what we want and we want it soon: a few hours, a few days, or hopefully not more than a week.
Look at these words about the faith of those from times past:
They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
They heard the promise, they believed it, and then they lived in light of it…but they did not often receive it within their days on earth. What a hard concept for us today.
What good is it to have promises made but never to receive them in one’s life? What benefit is it to live one’s life around the promise of God if we were never to receive it in our earthly lives?
The reason is simple: we are foreigners and strangers on earth. This earth is not our true home. No matter how wonderful it is, no matter how much we love those around us, no matter how great our desire to see justice given to those who are oppressed and beaten down, our identity is never rooted to this world. We are, in the words of the old spiritual, “pilgrims and strangers traveling through this wearisome land.”
Still, we are called to live in light of the promise of God. As the Apostle Peter says elsewhere, “live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). We live in reverent fear because we know that God is the Creator and Sustainer of this world. We live in reverent fear because we know that His promise is more true and enduring than the promises of any politician, marketer, or friend. We live in reverent fear because, though this world is beautiful and full of splendor, it, and all flesh, will pass away and be no more. And then what?
Then, we will, if we have lived the life of faithfulness, see Him face to face. The promises given will be realized after a life charged with the sort of faith that has heard, believed, and lived in light of those same promises.