I have watched people agonize over what might have been lacking in their faith that led God to let a loved one die, or some other tragedy to transpire. I remind them trials are not necessarily a sign that one lacks faith, but a challenge to exercise greater faith. I also point out the greatest servants of faith throughout history are those God used to take the biggest steps of faith, which usually resulted in the most significant pain, or death.
This means our conversation of faith should not be about what God has done for us because of our faith, but rather what we are doing for God, and whether or not we have the faith to go where He leads us. This perspective is a game changer when it comes to our journey through a critical season in our lives. We are finally able to release ourselves of the burden our faith has somehow been deficient, and move forward with a childlike trust as we discover the unique path God has set before us. It isn’t about the course He has designed for others, or about our inability to fully defeat fear and doubt. Instead, our greatest step of faith is our decision to follow, no matter what, and to wait and watch as God shows us His infinite wisdom.
Once we break through our unrealistic obsession with works-based faith, we are free to see true growth in our walk with Christ, even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Instead of holding a grudge against God because He didn’t reward our faith, we can crack the door to our hearts and let his love and grace pour in. No longer are we crushed under the weight of guilt because we believe our suffering is a form of punishment from God for some deficiency of faith. We want to know the answer to the question “why?” but we are willing to wait and learn. We can also accept the fact we may never have all of the answers to our questions in light of the lessons the Lord might teach us along the way. We are free to cry out, to grieve and to take our time. God heals us when we give Him and ourselves the space to put the pieces of our lives back together in new and beautiful ways.
Perhaps we know the gospel accounts so well, we overlook a most obvious example of this principle. As Jesus lay in the tomb, the disciples huddled together, fearing for their lives. Although they had walked with Jesus for three years and had been told He would die and rise again, the idea of a resurrection was still foreign to their thinking. This explains why they were fearful, and why Thomas was doubtful. Peter’s certain-minded statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) was being tested by the horrific set of circumstances that had unfolded in Jerusalem. The truth of the Great Confession had not changed, but the delusion of defeat left the disciples conflicted.
Mary Magdalene was certain Jesus was still dead when she asked a gardener (Jesus in disguise) where He had hid her Savior’s body. When the other women told the disciples the angels’ words concerning the resurrection, they didn’t believe them. Two people on the road to Emmaus were aware of these developments when they spoke these words to a traveler (Jesus in disguise once again): “Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:24 NIV)
“But him they did not see”. The very people who followed Jesus as the Son of God were unable to immediately embrace the implications of their own belief system. Many have suggested this is because they were still thinking Jesus had come to overthrow the Roman Empire. And yes, Jesus had the power to raise others from the dead, but how could the dead raise the dead? It should have been obvious to everyone the Father had the power to raise the Son. But the disciples’ faith, though certain, needed an infusion of new possibilities. Once they saw the risen Lord, the resurrection took its place among the foundational gospel truths and the eyes of the disciples were opened.
How do we learn to give God more time in our circumstances? What is the reward of patience?
Dear God, teach me to wait. In Jesus’ name, Amen.