Ann Voskamp wrote, “Faith thanks God in the middle of the story.”[i] The middle of the story is the hard place, where behind me, and at my feet, is the stumbled-over rubble of past mistakes, rebellions, regrets. And before, is the obscured darkness of unknown hazards and hopes. Faith thanks God amid the wreckage. Faith asks me every day to turn from fear and trust the One who has promised. How do I do that? Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) says:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The amazing Greek word translated “substance” is hupostasis. It partly means “steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, confidence, firm trust, assurance,” and it is mostly translated that way as “confidence.” It literally means “a setting under”[ii] as in setting under a support, a substructure, a foundation, that which is firm. Faith is the setting under me of the foundation that makes or causes me to stand and be confident. Jesus is that foundation[iii] under me. He is the Rock on which I stand.
Thinking of it this way helps me, because it makes me realize that faith is not so much something that I “have,” something I am required to manufacture or come up with. But faith is something I do. I simply step onto the Rock. I place my faith and hope, not in my ability to produce faith, not in something that may or may not happen, but in Jesus – his faithfulness, his truth, his Word, his love and care.
But, the hidden treasure in this word is another facet of meaning. Hupostasis also means “actual existence, substance, real being, essence.” It is used in this sense in Hebrews 1:3.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (hupostasis) sustaining (bearing up, upholding, keeping from falling) all things by his powerful word.
Faith is the essence of hope as Christ is the essence of God – His exact representation. When I step onto the Rock, I am sustained, upheld, kept from falling by the very essence of God, which is love. God is love; his real being is love. I will thank God here in the middle of my story, confidently standing on Jesus, the Rock of my salvation, supported and sustained by his Love that was proven at the cross.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16 (NIV)
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2 (NIV)
There is so much in Hebrews 11:1! I will look at the second half of the verse next time. Read more about faith in the blog Faith, Part Two
[i] Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
[ii] All translations from NetBible.org and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible