My autoimmune disease is worsening again. Stepping backwards from the kitchen counter, I swayed, imbalance throwing me off kilter. Startled, my husband steadied me. The familiar flush of terror washed through me, my expectations going dark. Briefly, I foresaw a bleak future of insurmountable peaks. But then, I remembered the Lord.
C. S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” Suffering is part of our growth. Trials hurt necessarily.
Nothing can happen to me outside of God’s good plan for my life. One day, as part of that good, I will die. That will be the ultimate refining, the last hurdle in the test of my faith, my entrance into his physical presence. Jesus is there in it. He determines the final exam. Faith is required. Therefore, the Lord defines the ways of faith clearly.
Hebrews 10: 35 Do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV).
“By defining faith as assurance and conviction, the author indicates that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead, faith is a settled confidence that something in the future — something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God — will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable ‘leap in the dark’; rather, biblical faith is confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy — the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will ‘never leave nor forsake his own.'” (1)
Faith is a settled confidence in God and his promises. How do we live that out? What part do trials play?
Our faith muscles must be trained. To save our lives, we must learn to spend our lives in faith and obedience to Christ. If our faith is true, it will endure, bearing up under our circumstances, hoping in God, and not succumbing to despair. By faith, we persevere toward what is promised in Christ, having our expectations and our eyes fixed on him. Yieldedness to God in trial is faith in action.
The Coming One will come and will not delay! (10:37) This event will happen. Though our bodies may be entombed before he comes, yet still, we will live. He came the first time, and he will come again to resurrect our bodies. We will rise.
Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV):
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay
Even though times are hard, we are confident in him. We do not apostatize, nor throw away that confidence (10:35). Christ will return for us, so we persevere, not shrinking back from our profession of faith.
Living in faith means we keep our eyes fixed upon him, not upon life’s hardships.
“Faith consists of persistent hope in the promises of God, and it is such faith, as 10:39 indicates, that obtains salvation on the last day.” (2) Solid faith in Christ preserves our souls, saving our lives for eternity. Though death looms, trepidation is a natural human response to long-term illness or approaching death, and wrestling with God over this will occur, still the one with true faith clings to the Lord in that struggle, rather than turning from him and facing an eternity without Christ, our potential lost and our exclusion from Christ’s eternal kingdom looming before us. We turn back to him repeatedly, whenever we waver or wander. Our faith in Christ is steadfast.
Faith consists of persistent hope in the promises of God. Solid faith in Christ preserves our souls, saving our lives for eternity. Click To Tweet
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:39 ESV).
This is why sickness, aging, trials, and despair are necessary. They test our faith, refining us, prodding us to dig into God’s Word to ascertain: Do I have faith? Do I truly believe? Am I like those who shrink back? Do I turn from my professed faith, or do I trust and rely on the Lord? These are the most important questions of our eternity.
What is true faith? “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is firm persuasion based on the reality of God’s fulfilled promises and Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Do you believe it? Faith is confidence in the Word of God and the proofs and promises written in it. Do you believe it? Faith is unshakable trust and expectation of the fulfillment of all God has promised. Do you believe it? Faith is firm belief in and conviction of the promise of eternity with Christ, the resurrection of our bodies, and the return of our Savior. Do you believe it?
Faith is turning back to God each time hopelessness or doubt assails us, returning once more, yet again, again, again, and always again to what is true. Do you always turn back to him?
Faith is turning back to God again and again each time hopelessness or doubt assails us. Do you always turn back to him? Click To Tweet
God wants us to wrestle with him through these trials. As C.S. Lewis wrote after facing the tragic loss of his wife to cancer:
“Nothing will shake a man—or at any rate a man like me—out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself” (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed).
This is why these tortuous times come. These bring us face to face with reality, showing us our true beliefs. We find the sore spot that draws us away, so we can sort it out with God and resolve it. If our faith is anchored in Christ and his Word, we can face death firm in the reality of all Christ has said and done, “knocked silly” of any senseless ideas to the contrary.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6 ESV).
Do you believe? Now is the time to determine it. If you examine yourself and find faithlessness, turn back to God and pray: “Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief.” He will answer. Only he can bestow faith. Whoever sincerely entrusts themselves to him will live.
Do you believe? Now is the time to determine if your faith is real. Now is the time to wrestle with God. This is why these tortuous times come. Entrust yourself to him. Click To Tweet
(1) ESV Study Bible, copyright 2008, Crossway Bibles a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, pg. 2379.