Jewish rabbis once used the phrase “white letters” in referring to the wealth of knowledge between the letters of the Torah. The idea is that there is often much to be gained by considering the things that are left unsaid.
When Christians study the patriarchs of the Old Testament, we sometimes fail to consider these white letters. Instead, we study the record of their lives and often hold them up to be, in some sense, greater than us. However, in truth, the accounts of Abraham, Moses, David and others that we read are simply the highlight reels of their lives, meant to emphasize the importance of trust in God.
But the true strength and endurance of their faith was primarily worked out in the white letters, those periods between the highlights.
Hopefully as Christians, we can all think of times when there was some significant, almost tangible work of God in our lives. We were just overwhelmed with how close we felt to him at those times, how we sensed his great love for us. Maybe some of us are experiencing this now or perhaps quite recently.
But then there are other times when we don’t really feel that connected with God’s presence at all. We pray, read our Bible, pray some more, but just don’t sense God at work in our lives.
These are those times between the highlights.
And they can sometimes seem sooooo looooong.
But you know what? There are times when DECADES pass between one sentence of the Bible and the next. This is certainly true in the story of Abraham. What was he doing after God called him out of Ur (and essentially all that he had ever known) and led him into a vast desert? All he knew was that God had called him. Sometimes that’s ALL he had to go on.
Years went by and he just kept on tending his flock, doing his work, and heading in the direction that God had last given him.
Abraham’s faith was worked out “between the highlights,” in those long periods of time when God was not actively engaged with him. He knew that God had called him and he believed that God was faithful and true. This is what sustained him and this is why God counted Abraham as righteous. He kept the faith. Even when he made mistakes, even when God didn’t seem to be answering his prayers, Abraham kept the faith and trusted God.
Just like Abraham, we are considered righteous by our faith. We believe that God gave us his Son to die an atoning death for our sin, that by faith we may be forgiven, reconciled with our Creator unto eternal life.
This is the faith that saves us, but it is also the faith that sustains us. It is our trust and reliance on God, even in those times when we have nothing more to go on than his Word, his promise to us.
The strength and endurance of our faith is largely developed between the highlights.
“But my righteous one shall live by faith” (Heb. 10:38a)(ESV).