Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Abraham and Sarah set out on a long journey without knowing where they were going. They move about from place to place like displaced people, even though they are on their own land. And they are convinced that from bodies which are “as good as dead” new life is about to come. Their lives are thus marked by a not-knowing, not-having, not-being-able that seems to belie what they do know, have, and are able to do. This tells us something vital about faith.
Because “faith is the assurance of things hoped for,” Christians can sometimes have the impression that faith is above all something we have in ourselves, just like knowledge or possessions or abilities. Strangely though, faith—like hope and love—is something we have outside ourselves, since its foundation lies outside of us in God. Faith consists in believing in God’s faithfulness, just as Sarah “considered him faithful who had promised.” This not-having on our own means that we come to share all that God has and wishes to give to us.
Good and gracious God, we place our trust in you, despite not knowing exactly what is in store for us. Increase our faith that we will receive all that you offer. May we never doubt that you keep your promises to us. Amen.
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