I know that faith can be sort of a “churchy” word, even trite at times, until you really need it. We hear the word a lot in Christian circles, but I have to wonder how often we actually embrace real faith or the author of it. It seems we talk about it in times of struggle or pain. We desire more faith when we have financial difficulties or are about to lose someone we love and we long for more of it when we’re scared or losing hope.
I believe that’s right where God wants us: broken, dependent, vulnerable people. It’s here in these places that we search helplessly for something, anything. We are desperate and in great need of hope. Have you found yourself here lately?
The more of these little (or big) alterations I’ve experienced, the greater my love for God grows. It’s like when one of our children is scared in the night and their strong daddy comforts them at their bedside. Or when one of our children is sick and I place a cool wash cloth on their forehead. These moments build the “faith” of a helpless child in their parent. The common denominator in both of these instances is our comforting presence.
God too, loves to meet us in our vulnerability. It’s here that His strength is made known. My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (A portion of 2 Corinthians 12:9) But, just because we were there our children’s pain wasn’t necessarily taken away, was it? They still experience gut-wrenching fear and they still get sick, and of course, we do as well.
God allows us to feel pain for a purpose. Sometimes we are struck with fear or God let’s us ache through a loss where our position is made evident. We aren’t Him. We are a feeble people in need of a great God.
I know this isn’t a newsflash, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered people who question God with such undue authority, that it’s startling. Romans 11:34 says “who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been his counselor?” It appears through scripture that He uses any means necessary to point our hearts towards Him and we won’t often understand why. I can’t begin to understand why so many tragedies happen. I hate it. I mourn for loss. I feel pain. But I’ve learned to trust the one who knows the ending of my story better than I do.
If you’ve read my HIV story, then you know that I was going about life sincerely blessed and continually overcome with all that God had allowed me to experience. I praised Him often and honestly believed in Him with the depths of where my faith had taken me to that point. But then, like the screeching halt of a car’s tires before crashing into another vehicle, my life was altered, interrupted, and changed. I met God in a new way and because of it, my perspective about tragedy has changed.
Sometimes, I’ve wondered why everyone doesn’t have a story like this. I meet so many people, who while claiming to have a relationship with the Lord, seem so unchanged by Him. Several years ago, Pastor Crawford Loritts looked at my husband and I and said, “never trust someone in leadership who hasn’t gone through a difficult trial.” We understood why. People meet the Lord in a different way when they’ve come face to face with something life altering. They either turn to Him in vulnerability for there is no other place they would go, or they turn away from Him and question every fiber of His being. I’m not saying you can’t ask any questions, but understand that God owes you no explanation-He just wants you to trust Him and walk with Him hand in hand through it.
In the time of Noah, the world was filled with wickedness and all kinds of sin. God regretted having made the human race (Genesis 6-9). But, Noah found favor with God and was called “righteous” and “blameless”. He was clearly instructed to do arguably one of the craziest things in all of history! Many skeptics still don’t believe that a flood came and that he really built a boat so large it could contain 2 of every kind of animal.
I recently watched a documentary where a man in the Netherlands built a boat to the presumed scale that Noah would have built his. It took him 4 years with modern technology. It is huge and an amazing visual to reading the story of Noah. What stands out to me most about Noah’s story is that he had serious faith/trust in God’s plan. In the midst of evil people mocking him, he kept on hammering. Years went by and he picked up another piece of wood. He knew what God had told him to do and he did it. Don’t think for a moment that this righteous man didn’t wonder a few times over the course of the years and years it took to build this boat, if what he was doing wasn’t absolutely nuts..he was human, after all. But he had obedient faith in God and he kept on building.
And that, is what walking out your faith looks like. It’s waking up each day, grabbing your “hammer” and getting to work. Some people’s hammers are heavier than others. Some hold the weight of their hammer for weeks or for many years. They come in all different shapes and sizes and at times seem too heavy to even pick up for another day. Some of my friends have such difficulties with their special needs children, that I find myself praying for them throughout the day.
My friend, Carrie, who I went to college with, tackles each day with such faith that a lot of us could take a lesson from her. Her days with 4 children, one with such severe special needs that they are in and out of the hospital constantly, are in no way easy, but her faith in our very personal God gets her through the struggles. She “picks up her hammer” each day, advocating on her son Toby’s behalf, when insurance drops the much-needed help they rely on or when his new surgical wound gets infected. He has a trach and is in a wheel chair and he’s six. Most of us experience nothing like the challenges they face each day. Carrie says she wouldn’t trade any of it. While it’s so difficult every day, she has felt the Lord’s presence through these struggles. Surprisingly, her “flood” has come in the form of God’s love and mercy. God gives her continual reminders of His grace and as she looks at her precious Toby, she knows she was made to be his mom. Her hammer is heavy and difficult and nothing like she would have picked out for herself, but it’s the one God’s given her and He promises to help her with the heavy lifting.
Some of us need to pick up our “hammers” and get to work as well. Perhaps God has given you a burden to bear that is much different from any of your other friends. He is asking you to walk in faith each day. He’s asking you to rely on Him moment to moment-and it’s hard! He doesn’t just leave you alone though, He offers words of comfort like this: “I will never leave you or forsake you” and that’s just one of many promises in scripture. He doesn’t necessarily take away the pain, He just promises His presence as you walk through it. He was right there with Noah as he hammered away for years and years and He is right here with you today. Lay at His feet in surrender. That’s where real faith is found.
If you’d like to read more of Carrie’s story, you can follow her blog here: http://theholtsjourney.blogspot.com/