Those of us who read and study the scriptures daily see many examples of “faith” described for our inspiration, and no doubt they are intended to produce a stronger faith in each of us as well. The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is devoted to examples of faith from the Old Testament; men and women who experienced firsthand the miraculous intervention of God, and were no doubt inspired beyond words by His involvement in their lives.
We think of the people in Hebrews 11 as pillars of the faith, and believe ourselves to be far inferior to them, but if we read the fine print — the details of their lives — they were much like us. They were ordinary human beings with flaws, weaknesses, and deficiencies, who overcame them, and were either delivered by God or died in the faith. Whether they experienced miracles, deliverance and healing, or an anonymous, gruesome death they still were described as being “faithful,” and all eventually died in the faith not having received the promises … yet!
As we strive for the “faith which was once delivered”, we can fall into the trap of evaluating our own faith as being “inferior” to examples of Biblical faith, and can even become depressed by the “evidence” we see in our own lives that we somehow “don’t measure up”, because our prayers aren’t always answered the way we would like for them to be. That is an unrealistic, and un-Biblical standard to hold ourselves to.
Paul had the correct attitude in 2 Cor. 12:7-10, when he prayed for deliverance from what appears to be a very bothersome trial.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
His reaction to a “no” answer was, in fact great evidence of his faith. He knew that his salvation didn’t depend on “getting healed” by God. Real faith led him into a closer relationship with God in spite of the “no” answer.
Paul’s faith was evident both in the request for healing, and in his cheerful acceptance of God’s answer. In his infirmities, with the illness, he was given the power of Christ, even greater strength and … TRUE FAITH!