What is Faith? Part 3
Many times as I’ve bowed in prayer I’ve felt doubt in my heart that God really wants to act on my behalf. I know he is able. This is a fact. But is he willing to take action for me, right here, right now? Does he want to?
We could poke around inside my history to discover the sources of my lack of trust. We could discuss the instances God has not answered in the ways I had hoped or has allowed tragedy to touch my life, but has worked it all together for good. He always proves that he knew better all along and that he is trustworthy.
But I want to focus on the core problem, because we all feel like this at times. Something inside our sinful hearts resists the truth that God is willing to help. The evidence:
- We usually try to solve it ourselves first before turning to him.
- We brace ourselves for the worst.
Ironically, at the same time, if we’ve suffered gross injustices like the recipients of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, we willingly embrace the idea that vengeance is the Lord’s. We know he will bring justice. He will repay. This is a comfort, because we want justice. We long for Christ to return to set things straight.
But come face to face with a deeply felt need and see what our hearts do. Be honest. Do we really believe the Lord wants to help? Do we expect his aid? Or do we prepare ourselves for the coming calamity?
Why do we have an easier time accepting the fact that God takes vengeance on our behalf, rather than that he will rescue us and come to our aid? Simple answer: We’re ingrates. We take note of the times God doesn’t answer as we supposed he had to respond. We remember these. But we let his many kindnesses pass us by every day and every moment without much awareness.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” Romans 1:21 NIV.
The author of Hebrews reminds his readers of exactly this fact when he turns his pen from assuring them that God sees their suffering and will take vengeance (Hebrews 10). He then turns to the topic of faith (Hebrews 11).
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV.
We can’t please God without the firm assurance that he is who he says he is and will do what he says he’ll do. We must stake our lives on the fact that he does indeed exist and that he also rewards those who diligently seek him. He says he does. Do we believe?
Vengeance is not mentioned here. Reward is.
Do we see God as a rewarder or a smiter? Every day our hearts beat, our lungs fill, we awaken after lying entirely vulnerable for hours in the night, we breathe his air, and the sun rises. Do we open our eyes and immediately offer thanks for his ordered world and watchful care?
Or do we have a pagan view of Yahweh, imagining him like Zeus or Thor with thunderbolts and hammers ready to strike us down if we displease him?
Yes, he is the just judge. But more importantly he is the lover, the one who sacrificed himself for us, who is near at all times, and who will justly recompense us for our faithfulness. Do we believe this in our heart of hearts, the core of ourselves?
That he is Savior, Friend, Sustainer, and Rock are the significant facts to fix our minds upon. His daily acts of mercy are to be savored with offered praise, rather than to remain unacknowledged with little gratitude.
He is able, AND he is willing. Do we believe this?
Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.