Have you ever noticed how some of the Bible characters went through some crazy moments?
I’m not just talking about the fierce battles they fought and the unbelievable realities they found themselves up against. I’m talking about the really crazy, undone moments. The ones that we like to gloss over in Scripture. The ones we don’t teach in Sunday School. The verses that we read with a grimace, amazed that they’re even in the Bible.
I have to say, I’m glad they are.
How else would we know that the heroes of Scripture, upheld in Hebrews 11 as shining examples of faith had moments where they felt utterly shredded, undone, pushed beyond the limits of their natural endurance?
How many times have we assumed that they felt courage all the time, just because that’s what their actions displayed? Even if we don’t admit it, we still carry around this assumption that the people of Scripture were all much stronger and braver than us—all the time. They were heroes after all. They saw God do mighty things!
And it’s true. Hebrews 11 tells us that they conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire—and much more, all through faith in God (33-34)!
But Hebrews 11 is a celebratory summation of what is detailed in the rest of the Bible in gut-wrenching narrative. Scripture doesn’t shield us from the middle of the story, the gory day-to-day, where these people of faith wondered if their process would ever be redeemed.
Take David as an example.
Cut off from his family and his country, running for his life, the future king of Israel escaped to the land of his enemies the Philistines, only to be recognized and threatened with death. 1 Samuel 21:10-15 tells the disturbing story of how David had to pretend to be crazy in order to escape the Philistine king. I’m guessing this isn’t something he recounted proudly to people later. It’s easy for us to assume that the biblical heroes were able to accept their choices the way we can reading them, but scriptural evidence reveals that David was humiliated and terrified and didn’t feel much like the warrior he was. Psalms 34 and 56 were the overflow of his heart during this crazy season where sanity and safety were crumbling from beneath him.
David doggedly pursued the Lord he loved, declaring that he could completely put his trust in God, even as enemies trampled on him. Even before he saw it happening, he knew God was raising him up, giving him strength to walk before Him (Psalm 56:13).
What I love about these Psalms is that there’s always the hope of physical rescue from trouble but that’s not the only deliverance David acknowledges. The main victory comes when the Holy Spirit kindles our hearts with the Truth that saves us from the spiritual warfare coming against our minds. This is how He puts to shame the enemy who tramples on us (56:1-2).
And David isn’t the only example.
In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet” agonized over the destruction of his people, the people of God, carried into exile for their sins. Filled with bitterness and heaped with scorn, Jeremiah declared that he had “forgotten what happiness is” and that his endurance was utterly gone (17-18). But as his soul was bowed down in this way, he called to mind the faithfulness of the Lord and his hope returned as he declared that the steadfast love of the Lord would never cease towards His People (20-33).
He didn’t feel it. It wasn’t a glamourous moment of robust courage. But he said it. And hope remained alive, because it wasn’t connected to Jeremiah’s strength or the brightness of circumstances, but to the faithfulness of God. Jeremiah knew that lifting up hearts and hands to the Lord was the best option because God’s Love for His People would not end (40-41).
Paul, a giant of the faith, the intrepid Apostle to the Gentiles, wrote to the Church at Corinth of the intense afflictions he was experiencing—burden and pressure so intense that he felt he had been given a sentence of death (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). The tumult and despair did not disappear simply because he was…Paul. But the heavenly vision that he practiced helped him declare that all the suffering “was to help us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (9). Guided by the Spirit, he reasoned that even if he was literally pushed to the point of death, God could restore even that.
Again, it had little to do with innate courage or human resilience. The words that inspire and encourage us today came from Paul’s submission to the Holy Spirit and his willingness to utterly trust the faithful character of God.
As we can.
Don’t wait to feel strong. Don’t wait to feel like you know how things will turn out.
It’s not about us being heroes. It’s about our Hero, in us.
In EVERYTHING we go through, the Lord calls out to us, encouraging us to look for His Word. He sharpens our eyes to see His steadfast love and faithfulness all around us.
We can always count on His justice against the enemy, and even our lowest moments can rest safely in His hands.
Whenever you find yourself faced with humiliation, terror, hopelessness—things that make you crazy and tempt you to wonder if you’re even pleasing to God, remember: God is greater than whatever is condemning our hearts (1 John 3:20).
We can cry out with those who have gone before us: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14)!
Because our Hope rests in Jesus, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!