Indulge me a moment, take a minute and look up Hebrews 11:41 – what does your Bible say? It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Oh? Hebrews 11:41 doesn’t exist, you say. It does in my Bible. It says, ‘By faith, Andrea persevered through trial and held on for the blessing that was promised her.’
Perseverance isn’t a core value in our culture anymore. Fewer couples make it to their 25th wedding anniversary and many companies no longer have tenure reward ceremonies. Seth Godin, marketing guru, pushes the message ‘newer, faster, better’ and we’ve bought into it. Big time. We have a consumer mentality. We want it all, we want it now, and tomorrow we want something new.
The problem is (and we know this already) the kingdom of heaven operates differently than our culture. In fact, most things in the kingdom of heaven is the exact opposite of our cultural mindsets.
Hebrews 11 is the Lord’s hall of fame; the problem is none of them received what was promised, which was Christ. Even us – we are caught the tension of now, and not yet. How well are we doing? Is your name written in the next verse, Hebrews 11:41?
Jacob is one of my favourite Bible characters. In Genesis 32, he is in a precarious position; Laban is behind him and Esau is in front of him. It’s fair to assume that Jacob feels like his conniving and deceit is going to get its revenge. He sends his family ahead and lies down for the night. I wouldn’t put it past him to think about running for the hills as a way of escape. He closes his eyes to rest for a moment and as quickly they pop open, wide. He’s sure he heard someone say, ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE? Jacob doesn’t even have time to turn his ear towards the sound when he receives a forearm smash from behind. It’s going to be a long night, he’s thinking.
Many of us – most of us – would give up and choose not to fight. We’re tired, life’s problems are coming from every side and still we get side-swiped. It’s not fair, it can’t be God, so we give and let go. And we miss the blessing we could have had.
Jacob didn’t let go; he hung on until he received the blessing even though it hurt like h-e-double hockey sticks to get it. Hebrews 11:21 says even to the end of his life, he leaned on a cane because of the pain in his hip that he received from the angel and he worshipped because he knew that God is faithful to those who persevere.
I think that’s the difference between someone in the Lord’s hall of fame and someone highly esteemed in our culture. The Lord values perseverance – going the distance with him and knowing, by faith, that there is blessing on the other side of the pain, or trial, or wrestling match.
Look back at Hebrews 11:41 again, do you see it now? What does it say? What blessing are you holding on for?