I like to get up in the morning and hit the brew button on our coffeemaker and, within a couple of minutes, have a hot cup of coffee in hand to go along with my Dutch stroopwafel. This morning, the coffeemaker beeped, letting me know the coffee was ready. I placed my cup on the counter and began to pour. Out came clear hot water. I forgot to add the coffee. This is not a good thing to experience early in the morning. The hot water lacked substance. Without the substance of the ground coffee, the water remained just water and did not become the magic liquid, so many of us enjoy each day.
Most of us are familiar with the traditional reading of Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The word “substance” is a pivotal word in the verse. It has been defined as “confidence, firm trust, assurance.” “Substance” is formed from two Greek words, “under” and “to cause or make to stand.” In other words, our confidence is based on something foundational that is not seen but makes us confident, firm, and assured. It allows us to stand in impossible places of belief and not give up, even when no natural evidence is present to support our faith.
If we do not believe in something not yet seen in the natural world, we will live a version of spiritual life that resembles someone pouring only hot water, not a fresh cup of hot coffee. When we live by faith believing in the substance of things not yet seen but promised, it is because we have anchored our hope in a realm beyond what we can see with natural sight. The greatest possibilities are waiting just beyond the line that defines something as impossible. Only a faith of substance can cross that line.