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.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
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.
If someone close to us loses their faith it hits us in the gut, because that is where we hold dear the faith that they have lost. My parents would say, “We don’t know what we would have done without our faith,” when older siblings set aside the religious beliefs and practices that they grew up around. While there was anger and frustration in their words, I heard primarily their concern.
The writer of Hebrews recalls today what faith provided Abraham. My parents’ words highlighted the necessity of faith in their lives when within a year’s time they gave up their farm, spent months in the hospital with their fourth newborn child, and held out hope that my father could find a job (and house) in town before winter set in and their fifth child was born.
How have hard times affected your faith?
—Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. serves as Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, WI.
Prayer helps us keep our faith in God and to trust him even when we do not understand his will.
Prayer is what keeps the faith; without it, faith wavers. And it is in prayer that people experience the compassion of God who comes to his children filled with merciful love.