One of my greatest challenges has always been to be able to pin-point what FAITH is. Does faith work? And if faith does work, does MY faith work? Is there a genuine faith vs. a false faith? Is it possible that other’s people’s faith does work, but mine doesn’t? Is faith as hard to have as the Holly Grail? As an INTJ, who is interested primarily in facts, of course faith seems a vapor-like tale, which I will probably never have. I am not very emotional, although I am not afraid to be vulnerable; because even when I am vulnerable, I calculate how vulnerable I can afford to be. So… when it came to faith, especially as a widow, I started questioning everything I knew so far – because everything I knew so far has changed without me having any control on it.
I discovered something extremely interesting. And it shouldn’t have surprised me, because the Bible clearly states it. But for some reason, I understood what the Bible was teaching about faith only after I went through circumstances in which I had to have faith.
Faith always works; what does not work is wishful thinking and misinterpretation of the Scripture or misinterpretation of the character of God.
God’s purpose is always the same: to bring everything under the lordship of Jesus. Everything He does, He does in order to bring everything back under the lordship of Jesus – the Epistle to Romans speaks clearly about this. In order to bring everything under the lordship of Jesus, He purifies everything. He needs to clean us by our sins. All faith that aligns with this ultimate plan that He has, all desires that are along the same lines as His desires, will be fulfilled. All faith or desire that is not according to His desires, will not be granted. Because everything that wants anything that He doesn’t, it’s not for our good, although we might well think it is.
God can – and will, sometimes – put our lives on a long HOLD. Until we finally figure out what we need to let go of. Every growth brings with it new challenges. The mere things that previously have been given to us by God might need to be left behind sometimes. We never reach a point in our lives when we need to stop learning how to let go. Nothing that we have we own – not even our breath. My first husband has been my greatest blessing up to that point. I had to let go. I had to let go of so many things; whenever I thought that I have left behind everything that one could possibly leave behind, God has kindly shown me how much I still had, and how much I could still loose. After all, isn’t life more than clothing?
The longest HOLD that I have had my life put on was for one and a half year. I remember feeling so cornered, so option-less. And the only thing that I knew to do was to sit and wait. It was so dark. I thought I was waiting on God, I doubted my faith, I doubted myself. I doubted God’s love for me and His faithfulness in keeping His promises. And the more I sat down and waited, the darker it got and it just didn’t make sense, because God is Light and there’s no shadow of darkness in Him. Yet, there was darkness around me.
It was then that it hit me: sin is not only doing something that you shouldn’t, it is also not doing what you should. I have fallen in the trap of believing that God promised me something He actually never did. I was holding Him responsible for not fulfilling something that I thought He promised. He gave me grace and time to realize myself the tiny – but nevertheless game-changing – difference was between the promises I thought He made me personally and what He actually said. Whenever you think God promises you something that is not entirely according to the Scripture – in other words, whenever you think you are the exception to the rule – you are in a very dangerous place because the core of your faith will be attacked; it’s a matter of “when”, not “if”.
The enemy LOVES a discouraged Christian; a discouraged Christian is not only easy to put down completely, but it is a person who hurts terribly; pain pleases the enemy.
When the enemy can convince us that God failed at keeping His promise, and when he can convince us to hang on to some promise that we think God made (when in fact, He didn’t), the enemy can and will exploit our pain and our confused state of mind. When “what we have faith for” does not happen, that is when confusion and even desperation can come in place. That is the darkness that was surrounding me: desperation that God has forgotten about me; a fear based on the real danger of being very very far from God – but not because God moved, but because I moved. The enemy loves the “spiritual kidnapping” game. The further we are from God, the harder to hear His words; the further we are from God, the easier to be prayed on. When we believe something that God didn’t say, and we keep looking at that thing; and because we try to help God, we start walking towards the thing that we think He promised, we do end up wandering away and alone into the unknown. The sin is not commission – is omission. Omission to look at God. You cannot look at something else before you take your eyes off of God. If you are looking at something else, it is because you have first stopped looking at God.
What is it that God never promised?
He never promised there will be no pain or suffering on Earth. He never promised our children will not die earlier than they should or that we would spend the last days of our old-age together with our first partners. He never promised anything else but His presence, his unconditional love and His faithfulness. He never said we will not cry. He never said we will not have unmet longings. He never said we will not mourn. He never said we will not go through the madness of this earth, and never promised to give us special powers. But He promised Himself. God did not promise us happiness – he promised us sanctification.
God does not break any promise to us when a person dies young. He never promised we will not loose partners. It is by faith that we trust that He is in control when we are not.
God does not break any promise when He asks us to let go of something that we most utterly love. God does not break a promise when the worst things on earth happen. It is us who break our promises to Him and to each other when we make those things happen.
But He is with us. In the darkest, most painful moments of our lives, He is with us. He promised to never leave; He promised to make everything work for the good of those who trust Him.
What would your day look like today, if you lived in the full awareness of the fact that He will never leave you Would you still try to hang on to the things of the past? Would you step forward bolder? Would you find new reasons to trust Him? If you actually believed God – the God of the Bible, just as the Bible describes Him – is with you, how would that affect your life?