Faith in Tough Times

These past couple weeks have been difficult for the citizens of Fort McMurray. The entire city was evacuated with many leaving with just the clothes on their backs. Sadly, many lost their homes and possessions and even more are left with uncertainty. Do we go back and rebuild or do we start over somewhere else?

When difficulties and challenges come into our lives, we are often faced with a choice: trust God or put our trust in ourselves. The reality I have seen and even experienced in my own life is too often we have a mild case of Christianity. In other words, we have an imprecise and inadequate view of what our faith in God is really about.

Hebrews 11 tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The reality is faith, regardless of whom or in what we put it in, is a necessity of life. We use faith in almost every facet of life. Sitting in a chair, we have faith it will hold us. Driving the streets of our city, we have faith the vehicle will protect us and others will not hit us. We trust doctors, pharmacists and other professionals who care for our health.

That being said, faith isn’t so much something we learn, rather it is something we practice. In a sense, faith requires on the job training. For the disciples, they were constantly training through their experiences with Jesus. On one such experience, the limit of their faith was put to the test. In Mark 4, we read the following story:

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (35-41)

After this great miracle, the disciples respond with “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” They saw and experienced something that blew them out of the water. Through their time with Jesus, their faith was growing and this experience put it over the top.

You see, faith depends upon its object. It is like a car. Some cars are more dependable and reliable than others. Recently Volkswagen, a highly respected vehicle producer, was discovered to have falsified their emissions tests for their diesel vehicles. Years of credibility were now gone. Their sales plummeted. Because faith is only as great as the object it is placed upon, by putting it on God, we have Someone in whom we can place our absolute trust in. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He holds all things in His hands.

A fear years ago I read a classic book by J.B. Phillips called, “Your God is Too Small.” In it he challenges his readers to redefine their understanding of a creator without labels or earthly constraints and instead search for a meaningful concept of God. I think too often we limit God because we see Him in a very limited light. In essence, we create a god in “our image.” As the disciples experienced, He is greater than any image we may create and any storm that may enter our lives.

I think many of us see God as simply a “ticket” to heaven but the truth is He is so much more than that. Becoming a Christian isn’t an end unto itself. The truth is, salvation is the beginning of the journey of faith. It isn’t about just knowledge rather, it is about growing in our faith; much like a child grows in stature. It is about change through experience and often times it is the negative ones where the most growth takes place.

You see, faith has problems. We all go through challenges, trials, pain and loss. How faith helps is it keeps our focus above the circumstances. It keeps our focus on God and allows Him to work out His glory and our good in our lives. In dealing with our modern problems, we can sometimes focus on the giants in our lives. But like real storms, we need to remember that the storm we are experiencing will not last forever.

Going through tough times in life is difficult. But by placing our circumstances and faith in God, it helps us to rise above what we see to experience God’s power and love to keep moving forward.


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