These were all heroes of faith for sure, but they had something else in common. Hope. Re-reading this passage, I was reminded that faith is directly linked to hope. First, a spark of hope that life can be better, both on earth and in eternity. Then faith envisions what we cannot see; it emboldens us to take steps in a new direction. But without a little light of hope, we can’t even see the potential for change.
The author of Hebrews makes it clear that there isn’t space to list all the heroes of faith. Another that comes to mind is Simeon, a “righteous and devout” man who waited eagerly in the temple for the revelation of the Messiah. He had faith that God would bring it to pass, even when nothing was visible. Right up until the day when he could take the Child in his arms and say, “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” The true light of hope had finally come.
So many people right here in our own community don’t have hope. Their capacity to dream of a better life ~ or a God who loves them ~ has been snuffed out. Sharing our faith begins by speaking hope into people - even a candle’s worth of light can pierce the darkness. Let us be like Simeon, undeterred by long waiting and lack of visible progress, faithfully serving and trusting that God is at work. Let us be like the heroes of Hebrews 11 who didn’t disqualify themselves because of their imperfections but prevailed in faith.
This Christmas season, remember ~ a little light of hope can change the world.