By faith Abraham… By faith Isaac… By faith Jacob… By faith Joseph… By faith Moses… -Hebrews 11:17-28, abridged (NRSV)
This partial list of ancient spiritual giants (for the entire stem-winder, see Hebrews 11-12:3) is meant to inspire and embolden a persecuted people who have every earthly reason to forget about following Jesus and go back to their safer, if smaller, lives.
Perhaps the litany did help first-century Christians keep on keeping on. Perhaps it has encouraged you, too—to open your overwhelmed heart, look up from the anguish of your own challenges (personal and existential), and trust God with the long view.
But perhaps you are one of the many people who are daunted and discouraged by this litany of faith-keepers. People who would never think of themselves as heroic. People who think faith is more about an absence of doubt than the audacity to trust a Greater Good despite their doubts. People who see trust and hope as luxuries of the privileged.
So here’s my invitation to you: First, consider that faith is not something rare and heroic, but an intrinsic part of the made-in-the-divine-image package. If you’re human, you have it.
Next, make a list of all the things you have done by faith. Your list may begin and end with getting out of bed this morning. And that’s okay, because for some of us that is a huge leap of faith. But I’m betting that when you begin to recognize that what may feel like obligation or desperation is, in fact, faith at work, you’ll inspire yourself and others to live deeply and generously.
For whatever it is that keeps us moving in the direction of life and love, and for the grace that holds us when we feel we can’t go on, thank you.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.