Faith does not grasp a doctrine, but a heart. The trust which Christ requires is the bond that unites souls with Him; and the very life of it is entire committal of myself to Him in all my relations and for all my needs, and absolute utter confidence in Him as all sufficient for everything that I can require. –Alexander MacLaren, pastor
And he believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God). Genesis 15:6 (AMP)
For whatever reason, Christians often believe blessing and difficulty to be mutually exclusive words. Unlike peanut butter and chocolate, blessing and difficulty don’t appear to be palatable traveling companions.
When God blesses our lives, shouldn’t our circumstances work out with ease? Shouldn’t others like and respect us? Shouldn’t we prosper in every aspect of our jobs? (Shouldn’t we all have jobs?) Shouldn’t our ministry efforts go smoothly? After all, God certainly has the ability to make things happen, why wouldn’t He—all the time? Shouldn’t the Christian life be much easier than it is?
Through the Eye of Faith
Most would concur that the Apostle Paul was a blessed man. But when we survey the actual details of Paul’s writings, we realize he experienced difficulties for Christ that might make a Navy SEAL wince. Most of his traveling companions abandoned Paul as he wasted away in prison, and yet, he was blessed! Without minimizing the importance of provision for physical needs, we would do well to firmly grasp the idea that God’s primary blessings are spiritual in nature; seeing life this way is a feat that can be accomplished only through the eye of faith.
Faith has more to do with God’s faithfulness than with our ability to trust; the only reason we are able to believe is because the King of the Universe is absolutely faithful to His word. One of the keys to this process of believing involves learning to recognize the real nature of God rather than falling prey to the ongoing smear campaign first initiated by the serpent in the garden of Eden.
The foundation and essence of life is an absolute trust in our Creator. Redemption and peace with God are impossible apart from faith. Further still, faith opens the door for intimacy with our heavenly Father; for without trust, intimacy is but a vaporous mist. Only through faith are we able to constantly abide in God’s life-giving grace. And only genuine faith will produce real and lasting spiritual fruit. Faith matters.
Even though faith is primarily about God’s faithfulness, our measure of belief still matters a great deal to our Creator. Faith was the primary attribute by which Jesus identified people. You don’t read of the Son of God saying, “O, you plump in figure,” or “I have never seen such beautiful white teeth in all of Israel.” No, it was predominately by their faith that Jesus identified people. We cannot avoid the fact that faith is intricately woven into the very fabric of Christianity. In a sense, faith stands as the universal currency of the kingdom of heaven.
Abraham blazed a trail of faith that every Christian is called to follow. What awesome news for those who fail to meet the cultural standards of our world! Are you less than stellar in appearance or popularity? You can be a person of faith! Did you grow up in a bad neighborhood on the wrong side of the railroad tracks? You can release His favor through faith! Do you lack athletic or artistic ability? You can receive God’s empowering gifts through faith! Are you short of the intelligence or skills needed to succeed according to this world’s standards? You can be a champion of faith!
The Work of God
If our faith is never stretched, it is likely an indication that we are failing to pursue God. During a profound moment, Jesus once told His followers not to work for physical food, but rather for eternal provision (see John 6:25-29). Whether confused or upset I do not know, but they countered with a question of their own: “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Surprisingly, Jesus responded with, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Jesus was in a sense saying, “Don’t be common laborers. Switch careers and be believers! Don’t expend all of your energies to fill your stomachs. Feed your souls on Me, the bread of life! Don’t walk by sight. Live by faith!”
Does all of this mean that we should quit our jobs, or allow laziness to swallow our productivity? Not at all! We, however, must place everything in its proper perspective. Only through a faith-filled dependence on our faithful God are we able to break our constant preoccupation with the physical—and therefore temporary—aspects of life.
These changes do not take place naturally or easily, which is why trusting God needs to become a career rather than a hobby!
This post is drawn from Chapter Fourteen of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers