Faith “In” God… even when it hurts

        There is, I believe a progression in our faith. First, we must remember that faith is not the object. The “object” is that which we have faith in – namely Jesus Christ. My disbelief that a basketball does not bounce has no effect upon the bouncing ability of the ball. The amount of faith you have in Jesus will not affect His divinity, ability or personhood. It will, however, affect your relationship with Him.

        In the Bible, a book containing the testimonies of ordinary people believing in an extraordinary God, we have examples of levels of faith in God. Jacob pictures for us a “faith if” mentality. He declares he will believe “if God will be with me and watch over me…” (Gen 28:20-22). He strikes a deal at the beginning of his faith journey. His faith is based upon experiences. Jacob is, in all actuality, saying that if God does not perform to his satisfaction, Jacob will recant.

        Paul in the New Testament takes us to another level. Here he does not ask God to perform to his satisfaction, but to give meaning to the suffering one endures. This is a “faith when.” Affliction is easier to swallow if we know that God is “using it for the good” (Rom 8:28) or that is produces perseverance and character development in our spiritual journey (Rom 5:2-3).

        On to the faith of the three Hebrew boys who refuse to bow to the idol of Nebuchadnezzar. They, in the face of immanent death, still believe in their God though there is no lesson to learn, and nothing to gain in their suffering and death, but the honor of believing to the very end. They have “faith even though.” They declare before the king that their God can save, but even if He does not, they will serve no other God then Him (Dan 3:17-18).

        Before I come to my last hero of faith, I would like to make one important observation. God met each and every one of these people of faith where they were, though, I believe, He desired that they grow in their faith. God is delighted with mustard seed faith, but I believe the purpose of mustard seeds is to be planted and grown into tall and effective mustard plants. And what better place to be encouraged in our faith, whatever level we may be on, then by those who walked before us with the Lord. Remember, it is God who is changeless – our faith will not affect Him, it will affect us.

        Lastly, we come to Job. Job was a man who was blameless and upright (Job 1:1) and yet suffered greatly. He suffered not knowing why. He suffered not needing to learn a lesson. He never learned of the reason for his suffering, even after his deliverance, which he never knew he would receive. Job believed. He understood that God gives and takes away (1:21). He understood that just as our marriage vows declare, we should not waiver in plenty or want saying we should be able to accept the good and the evil from the Lord (2:10).

        I do not know if I could ever have the faith of Job. But I do know that I must grow in faith, not just believing when it is well in my world. I know that I must believe even if I cannot find a lesson in my suffering. I must believe even when my situation is not equal with martyrdom for my faith. I must believe God, not because of His gifts, but because He is God. I must learn to believe in God, even when it hurts. May God meet me where I am, and help me drop my mustard seed in the ground, die and grow into the grand plant that glorifies our Father. Amen. Amen.

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