I'm reading through Hebrews at the moment and just hit Hebrews 11 which has to be probably my favourite chapter in the whole bible (I say probably because there are so many awesome chapters that that is likely inaccurate!).
Hebrews 11 begins with an amazing explanation of what faith is...
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11.1)
It is a beautiful verse even before you grasp all that it means...but I'll do my best to explain.
Faith comes from trust, and trust comes from knowing someone really well.
Think about it like this...you wouldn't tell your secrets to just anyone. You would wait to get to know someone, see them actively demonstrate an ability to keep schtum when it comes to important information, and then when you'd seen it enough times, you would entrust them with your secret, having faith that they will keep their word to you and not tell anyone.
It's the same in faith with God. God is personal; as in He knows us inside and out and wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him and be ourselves with Him. As with any relationship, it takes time to build up that kind of familiarity and trust and such a deep friendship only comes from spending time with Him; reading His word (the bible) and talking to Him (prayer) and hearing what others who know Him personally have to say about Him and what He's done in their lives (the testimonies of other Christians). The more you hear and see of Him the more you trust Him!
That's what Hebrews 11 is all about. It's about what happens when you take the leap of faith and get to know God and trust Him with your heart and hopes and future. Hebrews 11 is all about the amazing miracles that happened when people took the step of faith to trust God.
The thing about a relationship with God is that the faith it produces is extraordinary. It starts small. Maybe you trust God with something you feel you have no real control over anyway, like friends at a new school...and then when God blesses you with good friends you trust Him with something bigger, and so on until you're trusting God with everything, you put all your eggs in His hand and wait to see what He does with them.
What makes trusting God even better than just empty hope is the fact that in a world where nothing is certain - people are corrupt, sickness and death are everywhere, wars and famines abound everywhere - God is certain.
He is the same yesterday today and forever (Hebrews 13.8). He never leaves us (Deuteronomy 31.6). He always holds our hands (Psalm 37.24). He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29.11). He is not a man that He could lie (Numbers 23.19). He promises that even though we see trouble in this life He has overcome and we are with Him (John 16.33).
So our hope for the future isn't an empty one. It's not this empty wish we have that maybe if we are good people, or maybe if we work hard,or maybe if we are lucky, maybe everything will work out.
The hope we have anchors us because it is certain. It is rooted in something, in someone; Jesus Christ; the author and finisher of our faith, the Saviour, the Messiah, the King, God's final word, Emmanuel - God with us!
Faith in God and His word saved the human race when the earth flooded, faith in God and His word led Abraham into the promise land, faith in God and His word gave the Israelites Jericho and that isn't even all of it, there is so much more!
Faith requires nothing more than trusting God. You don't have to be sure of yourself, you just have to be sure of Him.
If I'd moved to this country just because it's nice, the moment it got tough (a week in) I would have packed up and gone back home. BUT because I knew without a shadow of doubt that Stockholm was where God wanted me right now, even after three months of unemployment, I knew I'd made the right decision and I was in the right place.
Our feelings and emotions are about as certain and sure as on-time buses or hospital waiting times...they aren't at all!!! But God is certain. You know that if He says He'll do something He will for sure do it, and not only will He do it, He'll do it better than you could have ever imagined, over and above your expectation (Isaiah 55.9, Ephesians 3.20).
Such is the God of the bible. If you put your life in His hands, He will do far better things with it than you EVER could have.
"Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37.5