A Great Cloud of Witnesses

There are many who say that the Book of Acts is still being written today. I personally believe so is Hebrews 11.

That chapter begins with, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Then follows a lengthy list of people who stood in faith, despite incredible odds, believing what God had said. The Faith Hall of Fame begins with Abel and includes Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses David, and Samuel, among others. Each one is remembered for standing in faith while facing daunting circumstances. Everyone of them had to put “feet to their faith” by trusting God as they fought battles, faced torture, or just lived day to day while waiting to see the promise of God fulfilled.

Faith is always tested and perfected in the dark. It may be the dark of circumstances, or the dark of loss, or just the dark of not seeing what we want to see. I don’t think faith ever comes easily.

Those who speak glibly of the ease of faith have usually not been tested in it. Sometimes they remind me of my early days as a labor and delivery nurse. I had not yet had a baby of my own and it was easy for me to refer to “discomfort” when talking with a patient about labor. When I had my first child, I discovered the depth of “discomfort” that labor brings. After that I approached labor and delivery quite differently when working with patients. Experience taught me that talk is cheap and easy if we haven’t been tested in an area.

Those who walk in faith through hard times and circumstances come to know the true depth of believing God against all odds. God pours out an amazing grace on those who choose to stand in faith. His grace makes it possible to weather the circumstances and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Those who watch do not have that grace. I remember what Corrie ten Boom shared in one of her books. Her family was hiding Jews in their home and she had asked her father how they would be able to face what the Natzis would do to them if they were ever caught. Her father told her that when they rode the train, they always got their ticket just before they got on. He said that God would give them the ticket (the grace) to face it when the time came. Her testimony reflected how very powerful that grace was in the hour it was needed.

Too many people today believe that grace gives us the freedom to do what we want. They remind us that we are under grace and not the law when they choose to do something contrary to the Word of God. I believe that grace gives us the courage and ability to do what is required of us, even when it is not easy. Grace enables us to follow the Word of God and trust the Lord in the darkest of circumstances.

Those who watch you stand and believe God for the healing of your marriage do not have the grace to do what you are doing. They may tell you to forget about your spouse and just get on with your life. This counsel probably comes out of their love for you or because they feel sorry for you. They see only the painful circumstances and want to spare you the hurt.

You cannot expect them to understand what you know in your heart. Understand that they love you and just love them back. Don’t be discouraged by their desire to remove you from a place of faith. Hebrews 12 begins with this amazing statement, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” That cloud of witnesses is all those who have gone before us and stood in faith! All those listed in Hebrews 11 are witnesses to what you are doing in this hour. Just think of that. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and David are watching you and cheering you on in faith!

Hebrews 12 continues, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Not only do you have a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on, but you have Jesus as your example. He endured the cross with all its shame and pain because of the joy that was set before Him. He now sits at the right Hand of God, encouraging you through pain and shame to see the joy that is now set before you.

There is a joy that comes from knowing what God wants to do. Remember that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When you can see it in the spirit long before you see it in the natural, joy will follow. And God’s grace will carry you through the dark times. Love,  Marilyn

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. ” Hebrews 12:12

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.

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