Contrasting Grace

( [email protected] ) Nov 15, 2003 11:13 AM EST

Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)

This verse serves as a transition from blessings that were enjoyed through trusting in the Lord to difficulties that were endured by depending upon the Lord. Herein, we see contrasting consequence of accessing grace through faith. The blessings we may somewhat expect. The difficulties may seem to us "unusual."

Even the blessing of resurrected loved ones is not surprising to be found in the history of God's people, since we serve a God of resurrection power. Elijah understood this. Consequently, he did not balk when he knew that the Lord wanted him to be an instrument of resurrection. This miracle of God's grace would occur in the home of a widow who was supplying food for the prophet. "The son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him" (1 Kings 17:17). This faithful widow was distressed and perplexed. "So she said to Elijah, 'What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?' " (1 King 17:18). In most situations, prayer would have been appropriately offered for the strength and comfort of the remaining family. However, Elijah was led to cry out to the Lord for the boy. "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him" (1 Kings 17:21). The Lord confirmed that this was His will by raising the deceased son. "Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived" (1 Kings 17:22).

This miraculous blessing was brought forth by faith in God. Yet, faith in the Lord does not always result in such temporal blessings, as the contrasting conclusion to our verse documents. "And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Living by faith is the general context of this chapter ("By faith . . . By faith . . . By faith" — Hebrews 11:3, 4, 5). It is also the immediate context of our verse ("who through faith" — Hebrews 11:33). These "others [who] were tortured" were also living by faith. Their faith in God would work for them an eternal blessing, to be enjoyed at the final resurrection of the righteous.

We can embrace this same outlook. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Meanwhile, we can be learning to live by resurrection power: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

Lord God of resurrection, I cry out to You for the reviving of the dead or dying areas of my own life or circumstances. I also look to You for the sustaining strength I need in times of suffering. Teach me to live daily by the power of Your resurrection, Amen.