"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:1-3
Have you ever wondered how these great heroes of faith found the courage to attempt these great feats let alone accomplish them?
Verse one tells us the "secret". They believed that the best predictor of what God would do in the future is what God did in the past! That was the "substance" or the "platform" or the "foundation" what they dared to hope for!
When faced by an overwhelming challenge in life, these faith heroes drew courage from knowing what God had done for His people in the past and reckoning that He could do it again! And the big thing that God had done in the past was Creation.
So, when Noah was called by God to build this mammoth boat to save himself and his family from the flood here's what I think He must have done. I believe he came to a faith point where he said, "This is such a big job called has called me to that He is going to have to help me!" And then His faith arose and He said to himself, "If God did that (Creation) then He can surely do this (The Flood). From that realization he found courage to begin building and then continue showing up to work for the next 100 years.
What do you need courage to do right now?
Where will you find it?
You factor faith forward!
You ask yourself, "What has God done before?"
Then ask yourself, "Is God still the same today as He was then?"
Then determine, "Is this something He wants me to do?"
Finally, like Noah, you can reason, "If God did that then, and if God is still the same as He was then, and if this is something He wants me to do - THEN IF HE DID THAT HE CAN DO THIS!
That's what those first three verses of Hebrews 11 means - faith reasons that the best predictor of what God CAN do is what He has done before!
Or put it this way, if you look at His credentials, and then if you trust His character you will find courage!
The substance of faith in God is the evidence from His past faithfulness and courage factors it forward!