It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. (New Living Translation)
Sometimes we can’t see beyond the end of our nose. We get lost in the here-and-now worries of the moment. We need a better view.
Taking a long view of life happens whenever we place our faith in permanent and ultimate realities, and not merely live by what feels good or drives our anxiety in the temporal moment.
To have faith is to possess an indefatigable and unflagging trust in someone’s ability to achieve a desired outcome. The author of Hebrews describes it this way:
Faith looks ahead and sees as clearly as whatever is right now in front of your face. People of faith have the ability to take the long view of life, knowing that God has their backs. The mature person of faith can set aside temporary pleasure to attain a future hope.
Moses, held up by the writer of Hebrews as an example of such faith, refused to identify himself as the daughter of Pharaoh. He chose to be mistreated in solidarity with his fellow Israelites, instead of having a good time with his high position in the most powerful empire of its day. Moses knew that the treasures of Egypt were not as wonderful as what he would receive from suffering for the sake of Messiah, and he looked forward to his reward.
It’s an understatement to say that our contemporary society embraces instant gratification. We want to feel good, and we want it now. Impulse control may just be one of the best life skills that kids (and adults!) need to learn in society. And one of the most effective ways to distract ourselves from a tempting pleasure we don’t want to indulge, is by focusing on another pleasure.
For the Christian who desires to follow Jesus in all things, looking ahead to better days is a confidence booster, namely because Jesus is better and superior to all things. This isn’t some wistful fanciful notion of positive thinking; this faith is based in the person and work of Christ. Spiritual endurance and perseverance through difficulty will have a reward – and it will be shared along with all of God’s people.
But if we only consider today and what’s in it for me right now, there are scant resources for responding to the temptations and fluctuations of life. We must put some planning and energy into clarifying and embracing our most cherished values. Then, those values shall inform everything we do, or not do. In the scope of eternity, suffering a bit now is nothing compared to what Christ has yet in store for his people.
Deferred gratification causes us to live differently. In a twist of irony, folks who orient themselves toward the unseen world to come are able to effectively impact and change the visible world they currently reside within – whereas those who focus solely on this present world find themselves falling woefully short with their truncated view of life. We need the wisdom which faith provides us:
We are always confident, because we know that while we are living in the body, we are away from our home with the Lord. We live by faith and not by sight. We are confident, and we would prefer to leave the body and to be at home with the Lord. So, our goal is to be acceptable to him, whether we are at home or away from home. We all must appear before Christ in court so that each person can be paid back for the things that were done while in the body, whether they were good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10, CEB)
Future hope, fueled by faith, gives shape to how we live today. It enables us to live in solidarity with those who suffer and are mistreated. It ennobles us to live above short-sighted desires and act on behalf of the common good of all persons in the here-and-now.
Lord God Almighty, the One who is and was and is to come, may we, along with your servant Moses, see the plight of all those who suffer in our midst. Give us courage and compassion to live in solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, the forgotten, and all who live with misfortune and misery. May our hearts, burning with love, bear the burdens of all in our care. And may our loving example ignite the hearts of others to accompany the vulnerable in their affliction. We ask this in the gracious name of Jesus through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.