The assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen
The letter to the Hebrews has a whole chapter of biblical examples of faith to encourage his persecuted readers to stay strong. They include Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Moses and Rahab, the prostitute who lived in Jericho.
It continues: “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”
Faith is a central aspect of most religions, including non-theocentric religions such as humanism (belief in progress) and nationalism, and it is not unusual for faith to encounter trials. But, as the list in Hebrews demonstrates, the spiritual history of the world is a history of the victories of faith.
“The conviction of things unseen” is important because it requires an awareness beyond the arena of material facts. Those who believe the only things that exist are the things we can measure by our senses or scientific instruments will not be impressed, but it seems to me that such a world view takes a great leap of faith.
As author C. S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”