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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stand Firm In Faith - Even When We Don't Understand

The Scriptures tell us that faith as small as a tiny mustard seed faith is enough to move mountains, when it’s God’s will. Scripture instructs us in living by faith, trusting God in all things. The Bible even teaches us how we get faith;

Romans 12:3 (HCSB) For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

Romans 10:17 (HCSB) So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

But what about those times when we don’t understand what’s going on in our lives and around us? How do we stand firm in faith then?

The Silence of God

Job 34:32 (HCSB) Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I won’t do it again.”

Job is the example many Christians use when we are going through things in our lives that we don’t understand. They may be sickness, death of a family member, divorce, breakup of a relationship, criticism from friends and family, financial difficulties, etc. We don’t understand what’s happening and search for answers. We look to Job for encouragement because that’s where he was, looking for answers. However when we read the book of Job we see that God never gave him the answer to the question Why?

Read God's response to Job in Job 38-41

In his message “The silence of God” Kim Kou says the following:

Some may think that God did not attempt to answer Job because there is no adequate or satisfying answer to the problem of suffering, at least not one that man on earth can understand. In fact, this point may sometimes be put forward as the main lesson or one of the main lessons of the story of Job.

In reality, the way God responded to Job's situation, the content of His speeches, and the fact that He did not answer Job's puzzling questions were deliberate, very appropriate, meaningful and effective in the context and were an expression of His perfect wisdom. God did not brush Job aside. Neither did He treat Job in a contemptuous manner, nor fail to show an understanding of how Job felt.

If we reflect on the reasons for God's silence with regard to Job's perplexities, we can see that there are deep, meaningful and vital issues for Job and for us to learn. I see at least two main reasons and I will state them as follows:

The need to learn to trust God fully and without wavering while going through difficult and perplexing situations

The need to appreciate the underlying issues that are crucial to our relationship with God and to a life of faith

By not answering Job's perplexities, it helped Job (and it also helps us) to reflect on them and come to a deeper appreciation of the underlying issues that are crucial to quality faith and relationship with God. These issues are related to deficiencies in Job and God wanted them to emerge and be made clear to him. By dealing with the situation the way He did, God helped Job to see clearly that it was not essential for him to receive the answers to his perplexing questions in order to respond appropriately. Instead, there were deficiencies within Job that he must recognise and deal with deeply.

If God had answered Job's perplexing questions, it may not come through so clearly and powerfully to Job and to us that the real problem did not lie in the unanswered questions, but in the deficiency in his posture and the spirit of humility, and the loss of focus on God during the trials. Furthermore, these issues would have become blurred. Job might then attribute his failures to the perplexing questions that confronted him instead of recognising the need to take corrective measures for the deficiencies within him. He might believe that once his perplexities were resolved, he could respond well to God.

We Live By Faith, Not By Sight

The Apostle Paul said;

2 Corinthians 5:7 (HCSB) 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight,

The Greek word that Paul used here for walk is peripateĊ, which is a verb used to describe the Christian’s entire life. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) uses “are walking” (For we are walking by faith, not by seeing,), and the New Living Translation (NLT) uses the word “live” (For we live by believing and not by seeing.).

Walking by faith means we live our lives according to what God says in the Bible;

Romans 10:17 (HCSB) So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

A life of faith isn’t a life built upon unrealistic expectations and hopeless dreams. This is the life demonstrated in the life of Job and by the saints of God as described in Hebrews 11 who understood; 

Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen; 

Hebrews 11:39-40 (HCSB) 39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

No matter how difficult this life may become, we trust God, according to what God has revealed to us in the Scripture. I recently did two studies for The Church of Divine Guidance adult bible study group titled “The Overwhelmed Challenge” and “Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry”. The foundation Scripture for them was;

Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Here’s what it means. It is the destiny of those who love the Lord to be like Jesus. God is committed to produce in us all the love, all the joy, all the patience, all the long-suffering, all the goodness, and all the gentleness of Jesus. But until that happens we are still subject to the realities of sin and death. It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death to be conformed to the image of His Son, Romans 8:29

God works in all things toward that good purpose. But only "those who love him" know that, because they are participants "with him" in the outworking of that purpose in faith.

I’ll end this post with a statement from a message by The Rev. Jeremy Blair , pastor of Berean Bible Church, Carlisle, PA

One day when this life is over and we are in the presence of God for all eternity, we will understand all the circumstances that we may have thought were unfair, unjust or just too difficult, and it will be then, that God will reveal how he was there with us through it all.

Let me encourage you, whoever you are, whatever you may be going through, and especially if you don’t understand it all, please take comfort in the fact that just because you don’t understand, doesn't mean God isn't involved in your life. God loves you and cares for you. Walk by faith, not by sight.

Armed with the knowledge that God works everything together for the good of those who love Him, even those struggles that you don't understand, those hurts you don't understand, those issues you don't understand, can you stand firm in faith? I believe you can.

God bless you,


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