Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
People have always struggled in trying to define faith. Now I am not talking about trying to manipulate God into moving favorably in our lives. I am also not talking about making a “blind leap in the dark.” People who believe this is a good description of faith miss the central truth of faith’s meaning. Hebrews 11 reminds us, “Now faith is!”
True faith is confident obedience to God’s word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Faith is described in a two-fold way. It is the “substance of things hoped for,” and “the evidence of things not seen.”
The word translated “substance” (hupostasis) in the Greek, means literally ‘to stand under or to support.’ Faith is the foundation that gives the believer the confidence to stand. The verse could be translated “faith is the confidence of things hoped for.”
This is illustrated in the life of the missionary Hudson Taylor. “When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was caught in a calm. It was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and sought him to pray for the help of God. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing-stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. Taylor said, ‘I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And it was done. While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there?” The captain’s voice responded, ‘Are your still praying for wind?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well,’ said the captain, ‘you better stop praying for we have more wind than we can manage.’”
Here is a great example of faith being present in a person’s life. When a need came to Hudson Taylor’s attention, he was willing to pray about it. First, he wanted the captain to exhibit a little faith himself in the Lord’s provision. He was the man in charge of the vessel.
How many of us have asked people to help pray for our own personal needs at times? Did we believe in those moments God was really going to answer right away? We should always set our sails to catch the wind of heaven’s actions. Why? Because the Bible plainly states that “Faith Is!”