The last few weeks have been a whirlwind as we watch things happen around us and it is easy to wonder where God is and if He sees.
The way we were raised in our early days was that if you are walking by faith nothing goes wrong and you are always on top. We took the on top to be literal fame and recognition and have thus judged God unfair when he did not deliver that for us. But is that the whole truth? Is that the picture we find throughout scripture? Could it be we have been a little selective through the generations?
Scripture is full of stories of challenges and trials, yet we only focus on the victories.
Cain was banned from the presence of his people for killing Abel but was preserved with the mark of God on his head. Noah was ridiculed for following through with the instruction of God because up to that time, there had never been rain from the heavens. Can you imagine the laughter when he started talking about water from above and a flood? I see it as people coming every day to watch this foolishness and laugh…until the rain actually came.
Abram was called out of an affluent home and comfortable life and given a promise of greatness including a child of promise, many generations and great protection. All kicked in when God spoke, but the child of promise could not come out of Abram and Sarai and life’s challenges were used to test and approve them thus transit to Abraham and Sarah. They even ‘helped’ God in the process, and we know how that went. Naomi, lost all the men in her family in a foreign land and had to go back home in her old age, despondent and grieving but the love of her daughter in law would be help she needed to be joyful again.
Esther was an orphan adopted by her older cousin and rose to be queen, but she was not spared when the edict went out to destroy the Jews. She had to give up her hidden identity and step out with the possibility to death to defend her people. God gave her victory. Mordecai, choose to remain true to his God and found himself in the crosshairs of Hamman who did everything in his power to destroy the man and his people to no avail.
There are so many stories of people walking through adversity by faith
Elizabeth was barren and it brought shame on her and her husband. The word of God came but Zachariah didn’t believe so he was struck dumb until the coming of the son. When he was old enough, they suffered the difficulty of having a different child, one who was out there on his own, eating locusts and honey while dressed in camel skin before he was beheaded for speaking the truth. Mary and Joseph had to deal with shame because of the perceived indecency of her pregnancy. Can you imagine how Joseph felt knowing that Mary is pregnant, but he has not taken her to bed? Can you imagine having to raise someone else’s son?
The most vivid one is Christ in the garden and on the cross. The day before he had shared his heart with His Father that He would rather not die. He was so aggrieved; He was reported to have sweated blood. Yet He still accepted the plan and went through the beatings and was crucified. On the cross, He was caring about the thief on His side even as He was in intense pain. At the last moment, knowing that His father could not look at Him because He was the representation of sin, He calls out, ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Then asked for the forgiveness of the people and committed His spirit to the same one who had ‘forsaken’ Him.
As these stories run through my mind, I find them totally intriguing and revealing. They tell me of people whose lives were not easy, but they chose to continue walking. They tell of hope beyond what was visible to the eye. They talk of people who had a deep faith in God hence a deepened ability to keep going no matter what.
What kind of faith is that and is it visible in our day?
I look around me for people who live like these men and women of faith and indeed I have found many. They are living otherwise unseen lives and thriving. I also find many who are either mad with God because of the way life is going or have totally walked away. It is healthy to take a break from everything you have been taught so that you can interrogate it fully and come to a place of deep understanding of what you believe and why.
About ten years ago after a long season of struggle and walking out of the conventional church system, I blew up. I was so mad with God, I walked out of all things fellowship and shouted at Him that if He was still God and existed, He should come down and reveal Himself to me in a way I would understand or else He should just go and sit in the corner. This begun a journey that is still on going, that teaches me to keep trusting. Is it all rosy? Nope! Yet what other way do I have? I have done it in many different ways, ranting and raving at God because he is not doing what I wanted Him to, when I want Him to.
He has often, “Even when you cannot see the fullness, I am in control and I am at work.“
In the last few months, I have had moments of when I had to stand still and just remind myself that He is faithful and great at proving Himself in very subtle ways. So my posture today is,
- Even when I do not understand, the promise remains.
- Even though it may get hard, the promise remains.
- Even when it seems so dark, the promise remains.
No matter what, who, when, where, how…the promise remains.