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Keeping the faith when God seems absent

June 21, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Discipleship

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

There is a popular saying that goes like this: “God works in mysterious ways.” Which is another way of saying, “GOD, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!”

Can anyone relate?

We believe that God is sovereign, that He is good, and that He loves us. And we like to believe that if we were a good, sovereign, loving Father/Deity, we would know how to treat our children. And so, naturally, when we suffer in ways we can not understand, we question the character of our God who seems to so often enjoy working in “mysterious” ways.

One of my favorite quotes is by the early twentieth century pastor Oswald Chambers, famous for writing the devotional book My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers, reflecting on the Hebrews 11:1 verse listed above, wrote “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” Amen and amen.

“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” What a beautiful way of explaining what it means to walk by faith. Faith is not positive thinking, or wishful thinking, or believing in things that make no sense. No – faith is choosing not to allow our actions and attitudes to be swayed by the day-to-day circumstances in which we find ourselves. Instead, it is basing our whole life on the character of God, trusting in who He is even when everything in our life seems to contradict those truths. How can we maintain such an outlook on life? By remembering the cross and the resurrection. For example:

How do you know God is good, when everything in your life just seems evil, or the product of an uncaring God? Because at the cross, when things seemed the most evil, as the innocent son of God was unjustly murdered, God was actually working the greatest possible good for humanity, delivering us from bondage to sin and giving us eternal life.

How do I know God is loving, when He doesn’t seem to give me what I ask of Him? Because at the cross, when it seemed that He was the most unloving, allowing His son to die, turning his back on him and heaping our sin on his shoulders, God was actually more loving than ever, loving the world so much that He gave His very best so that we might be rescued from sin and restored to a relationship with our God. And we know that if He gave us His Son, He will also give us everything we need (Romans 8:32)

How do I know God is sovereign, when life just seems to be a random, meaningless (and often cruel) accident? Because at the cross, when things seemed so random, chaotic, and meaningless, God was working the greatest evil out for the greatest good, orchestrating it all towards the redemption of all things.

How do I know God is just, when it seems like injustice keeps happening to me? Because at the cross, God pronounced judgment on the evil forces of this world, giving us assurance that one day they will finally be judged once and for all, and everything will be made right in the end.

How do I know God is forgiving and full of grace, when I continue to sin and fall short again and again? Because while we were still sinners, when we were at our worst, when we were enemies of God, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And now God has made Jesus, who was without sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be righteous and perfect in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” I can guarantee you that for much of your Christian walk, you will not understand what God is doing, and many times you will feel that He is absent, cruel, unloving, and unjust. When you feel that, return again to the cross of Christ, and there remember that God took the greatest evil, the most heinous injustice, the most unloving moment, and brought the greatest good, the most perfect justice, and the most extravagant love into this world. He is not absent, He is not cruel, He is not unloving, and He is not unjust. Our God is holy, loving, good, just, sovereign, and full of grace and mercy. Be confident in that, and put your faith in the rock that is the character of our God, and He will give you the strength and grace to get through your most difficult trials.

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