There is the answer. This somewhat poetic description of faith is found at the beginning of what is called the "Hall of faith". Hebrews 11 goes on to list many heroes of the old and new testaments; men and women who somehow exemplified what it means to live, at least the main thrust of their lives if not every bit of it, by faith.
Before we look closer at the "definition" given in verse one, let me share this real life descriptor that I heard recently. The guy was saying that because of his good marriage, he can be at work through the day and have "faith" that his wife is at home taking care of the children. He knows his wife so well, and knows of her love for him so completely, that even without calling and checking every hour, he can "know" that she is there and doing what she regularly does.
How does this relate to verse one? Of course the man hopes that his dear wife will do as she has committed to do for him and for their children. But it is his faith that gives him confidence in that hope. And it is his faith that assures him, even though he does not call or watch some security monitor, that all is well at home.
This analogy between a man's faith in his wife and a Christian's faith in God breaks down of course, because things might happen to a man or woman that interfere with the hope we have in each other. Things that can never counteract the God of the universe, nor His ultimate good will.
When we hear glib cliches like "keep the faith" thrown about in the culture, we must ask; Faith in what? Or in whom? The value of faith is in the object of the faith, not in faith itself. There really is no one and nothing on earth we can rely on perfectly. We have words like heartbreak and tragedy and shock and even dismay, always ready for the occasions when either somebody we loved or trusted, or when the weather or planet itself, has let us down. Only faith in God our creator truly suffices.
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