For the past few weeks, I have blogged about how faith appears crazy by the world’s standards. Faith is believing in what we don’t see, obeying when we don’t understand, and persevering when we don’t feel like it.
Now, this is all hard stuff, but if we could be assured that having this kind of faith would cause things to go our way every time, suddenly it would be a whole lot easier to have it. The problem is that there are no guarantees because faith is trusting when we don’t receive.
Sometimes we believe, we obey, we persevere…and things still don’t work out. The job is lost. The marriage ends. The loved one dies. And we don’t understand. We are not alone, however. Scripture tells us that having faith does not guarantee that life will be easy and painless.
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:35-40 (NIV)
“None of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better…” Faith is believing in the “something better” God has planned. It is believing that God has our best interests at heart no matter what our outward circumstances are. It is believing that the suffering and pain we might experience in this life are nothing compared to our glorious redemption in Christ. It is trusting even when we don’t receive what we desire and even when we never understand the reason why.
I am often asked why God allows some things to happen, especially when a believer has trusted, obeyed, and persevered. I can’t answer that, but I do know one thing: we can’t possibly be smart enough to understand everything God does—He’s too big for that. After all, God tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Deep down we know this. Regardless of how smart we fancy ourselves, we know we are insufficient in comparison to the God who created the universe and directs the course of history. That is why trust is so much a part of faith and why we cannot please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). For true faith—believing when we don’t see, obeying when we don’t understand, persevering when we don’t feel like it, and trusting when we don’t receive—begins with the acknowledgment that God is God and we are not.