Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Living By Faith

"We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

I was outside just moments ago.  While there is snow still on the ground, it is a beautiful day here in Colorado.  The sun is shining... the temperature is near 50... it is a gorgeous day in February.  But as I look out my window now, just moments after I stepped inside, I see that the trees are swaying greatly from the wind that has suddenly picked up.  They are moving with such force that it would be impossible to miss the wind.  Did I just not feel it while I was outside?  Did I not hear it or see it's work?  Was I so oblivious to the wind while I was out there, or did it just suddenly pick up?

It makes me think of my faith... my life with God.  I know that he is ever present in my life and the lives of those around me.  However, there are so many days that I don't feel his presence... I don't see his work going on in my life... I completely miss him.  Yet I am sure that if I truly just paid attention, I would see that he is there always, working in my life... working in those around me. 

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

While walking through those tough times in life is when I struggle the most to see God at work in my life.  I think that this comes to one basic question: "If God is sovereign, how can he allow bad things to happen?"  Wow, what a question, right?  I mean, why do 3-year-olds get cancer?  Why do parents have to lose their children?  Why do huge tragedies happen in the lives of those that we know, and in the lives that we don't around the world?  Why, why, why?  We started to talk about this question in my Bible study this morning, and we came to the conclusion that maybe there really is no answer.  Maybe we will go through our entire lives and struggle with that one question.  I know for myself, I have struggled with it for years, and most likely will struggle with it for the rest of my life.  But struggling isn't always a bad thing.  It is how we grow.  It is how we change.  It is how we question and know God deeper.   The one answer that I have come up with is that no matter what, God is there with those people who have to go through things.  He never leaves our side, no matter the heartache, no matter the loneliness, no matter the doubt and anger... God is with us always.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

As the words of a famous hymn go, "I am weak, but thou art strong".  I know for me, those words could not be any truer.  I am weak.  I don't have all the answers.  I don't know the why's.  And I certainly don't feel able to handle the why's.  But I am so grateful that God sent his Spirit to help us in our weakness.  There are so many times that I have no clue what to pray for... no idea how to even begin.  And that is okay, because God does.  And the Spirit prays for me, lifting up those hurts and worries and questions to God.

"You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:11b)

The story of Job is always one that has haunted me.  It is hard to hear of God offering up his servant to be tested.  And yet, I knew that there were great truths and lessons for me to learn in Job's sufferings, and eventual blessings.  One of those lessons presented itself to me this week while studying the Bible.  God knew how strong Job was.  He knew how strong Job's faith was.  Job didn't know it.  And so God let Job's faith muscle be worked.  And when Job came out of it, he saw.  He then knew how strong his faith was in God. 

"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5) 

Maybe the why isn't as important as the reflection that we see in the mirror once we have gone through the trial.  Maybe the important thing is to see that God never left our side, and that our faith is now stronger than we had ever imagined.  Maybe the experiences of life are there to grow something so much more beautiful and stronger than we could have ever imagined.  Just like the caterpillar believes that his life is about to end and then he transforms into a beautiful butterfly, perhaps our faith does the same thing... and the transformation is so much more beautiful and amazing than we could ever have imagined.

"Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all."

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