2009-02-14 - Fair-weather Faith
Habakkuk 2:4, "But the righteous will live by his faith."
It is easy to believe that God loves us when things are going well. When God smiles upon us, it can seem like we have cushions in our shoes, or higher octane in our engine. When we know sweet times of prayer and fellowship with the Lord, it may seem that the world only passes us by unnoticed, without concern, because we are feeding on angels' food. Most of us do not experience these times as often as we wish. The normal experience of the follower of Christ is one of struggle. We struggle with our flesh, either because of sin or frailty. We struggle because our enemy is on the prowl, and he seeks to undue us. Even more, we struggle when it seems as if God's Spirit is withdrawn from us, and we only sense God's frown. It is here that we must hold on all the more to the Lord. Do not let go. We cling to Christ even more when we struggle. Many a saint will say that they have grown more in their relationship with Christ during times of hardship and suffering, than they have in those times when all seemed to be going swimmingly.
Will you give up on God because you feel you have lost His smile? If you sometimes consider cashing in your spiritual bonds because of your struggles, may I ask if maybe you based your faith on God's smile? It is not the true ground of faith. The ground of our faith is not God's smile, but His promise. It is true that sometimes it seems that the smile of God goes for a time, but His promise does not. The smile of God is His temporary sunshine, but His promise is His eternal covenant. If you believe on God's promises in Christ, then they are as true when you feel God's smile as when you feel His frown. His promises are just as true in the dark of night as they are in the light of high noon. It may seem like things are difficult, and we all have our difficult seasons, but God's promises are sure in every circumstance. What is the basis of God's promises? The basis of God's promises is His love. Even more to the point, the basis of God's promises is His love to us in Christ. Our foundation is not our enjoyment of God, but rather His promises - to which He is always faithful. We may struggle. We may be cast down, but we still look unto the Lord and say, "My God," Matthew 27:46.
We are prone to have fair-weather faith. It is the faith of slippers and easy chairs. Sometimes this is not our reality, however, and it is easy to wonder, "does God really love me? Would He allow this circumstance in my life, this pain, this sorrow, this suffering - would He - could He - and still be a loving God?" It is better that we trust a God who seems to sometimes frown, than to trust ourselves. The Lord has never forsaken us. He sends burdens giftwrapped in love, for our growth. We are thus taught to trust Him. It is not easy, but it leads to a deeper faith. Do you think the three lads who walked in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace had that as their first trial? It was a great victory, but we must know that they had been tested and tried for a long time before they underwent this one test. We all know pain, but those troubles are preparing us for something greater. They are all according to the Lord's perfect plan, and they are given us for our growth in grace. Let us trust Him. He will return His smile, and even God's frowns are really smiles - because they are all sent to us in love.
Soli Deo Gloria,