Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible (Hebrews 11:1-3).
What more shall I say? I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth. Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:32-38).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him (Matthew 7:7-11).
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
As we read about the faith-filled Old Testament heroes in Hebrews 11, it’s not hard to stand in awe at their ability to hold firm to their convictions even in the face of extremely challenging circumstances. Where did they find the strength to endure floggings and rejection, imprisonments and torture? What kept them going? It was their faith (Hebrews 11:38)!
When we read passages like those in Hebrews 11, we may think: “I love the Lord, but I could never do what they did.” Maybe instead of identifying with these heroes, perhaps we identify more with Jesus’ disciples when he said to them: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
Most of us believe that our heavenly Father is a perfect, all-knowing, and loving Father who desires to give us good things (Matthew 7:11). So why do we still get anxious over even the small issues in our lives that tend to resolve themselves over time? Why do we sometimes feel as if we are mastered by our circumstances instead of mastering them through faith and trust? There isn’t only one answer to these questions, but perhaps we could look at our faith to see how we can strengthen it.
Jesus promised that if our faith were as small as a mustard seed, it could still move mountains (Matthew 17:20). We just need to tend to this seed and watch it grow and bear marvelous fruit. The Old Testament heroes of faith didn’t get that way magically. They tended their faith, exercising it in the daily routines of their lives.
Do you want your faith to be able to sustain you in times of crisis? Then sustain your faith in times of peace. Try your best to stay close to Jesus during your day, even if you don’t feel the “need” to. Spend time every day pondering his word in Scripture, so that it takes root in your heart and springs forth in times of stress. Read about the saints of the church, and learn how to imitate their faithfulness. Step out of your comfort zone every now and then to serve the “least” of your brothers and sisters. And finally, if you don’t already do so, begin meeting regularly with other Catholic men for prayer and support (more about this in a future article).
Jesus wants us to activate our faith—no matter how small it is —in all circumstances of our lives. As we do, we too will become men of faith just like the mighty men of God whose tales are told in the Bible! And our faith will become the “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
“Heavenly Father, I want to activate my faith by trusting in you and your great love for me. Lord Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief!”
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take a few minutes to reflect on the Scripture verses at the beginning of this article? What do you think God is trying to reveal to you in these Scriptures?
2. When you read the stories of the faith-filled men and women men in Hebrews 11, do they inspire you and lift up your faith or do they make you feel guilty about your own level of faith? Why?
3. The article speaks of our heavenly Father as a “perfect, all-knowing, and loving Father who desires to give us good things (Matthew 7:11).” How does your image of God the Father compare to this description of him, and the way he is depicted in Matthew 7:11 and other Scriptures? How does this image affect how you pray and live out your faith?
4. In the article, we hear these words: “Jesus promised that if our faith were as small as a mustard seed, it could still move mountains (Matthew 17:20). We just need to tend to this seed and watch it grow and bear marvelous fruit. The Old Testament heroes of faith didn’t get that way magically. They tended their faith, exercising it in the daily routines of their lives.” The article also gives some examples of how we can “tend” our faith. What steps can you take to tend and help deepen your faith so it is a more active part of your life?
5. In what ways can you, and the other men in your church, support one another in strengthening each other’s faith?
6. If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying to the Lord that each of you would come to know in a deeper way how much your heavenly Father loves you, and that your trust in him would increase. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.