A Thoughtful Faith

It’s election season and those awful commercials are back, you know the ones that address complex issues in just 30 seconds. Illegal immigration, which is a real issue with many causes, both economic and political, becomes about ‘them,’ those who are ‘different.’  Our current economic state resulting from multiple causes both foreign and domestic, is turned into a ‘tax the rich,’ or ‘cut our taxes’ argument.  We are fed a bland soup of easy answers and simplistic solutions, that mostly blame the ‘other side.’  I watched a ‘debate’ last night, hoping for at least some thoughtful exchange of ideas. Yes, I was disappointed.  It was the same repeat of attack lines and catch phrases, words designed to get a spot on the news. 

This same kind of ‘thinking’ can creep into our Christian practice.  If we choose to avoid thinking about the hard things preferring our favorite Bible verses that comfort us, we will lack a solid grasp of the wisdom of God and a mind capable of dealing with the complexities of life. That can make us easy prey for empty religion, cultish leaders, and a shallow faith that cannot survive the inevitable crises that come to us all.  Here is the truth, dear friend.

An authentic Christian Life and the kind of faith that leads us to joy in the Lord will require thought, dialogue, meditation, and a circle of friends who think with us. Those unwilling to exist in the mystery, who will not admit “I don’t know,” will either escape into a superficial faith shaped around slogans or they will become functional agnostics, believing God is out there somewhere, but unreachable.

The Lord of the Universe is not a vending machine that spits out goods when we insert our prayers!  He is not bound to do what we ask, though He delights in us and desires to lead us to lives that are, in Jesus’ words, ‘abundant.’  From where we sit, He appears to be infuriatingly unpredictable.  Looking at suffering we cry –  “God, why is one dream realized and another shattered?” There are not enough answers this side of Heaven to satisfy every question. 

Job, that Old Testament guy who lost everything – family, wealth, and health, might have turned bitter insisting that God must bless those He loves with perpetual prosperity.  Instead, he wept, experienced the full range of emotions, and trusted the Lord completely.  We see the whole story and see that God had a purpose in it all and was with Job.  But, does it seem right that He allowed such horrific things in the life of a faithful man?  Perhaps not, but it IS the truth.

In another story, we meet Joseph, who received God’s promise with faith as a teenager. Immediately thereafter, his life turned into a nightmare – sold by his brothers to slave-traders, carried to Egypt, falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, forgotten by friends.  His trials went on for years. But through them all, Joseph lived with faith and excellence. Did he weep? I am sure he did. Did he wonder why? Certainly.  But, he kept faith and eventually became Prime Minister of Egypt. When those same brothers showed up in his court decades later, he told them this: “Don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. These two years of famine will grow to seven, during which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God has sent me here to keep you and your families alive so that you will become a great nation. Yes, it was God who sent me here, not you! And he has made me a counselor to Pharaoh—manager of his entire household and ruler over all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8, NLT)

Life is filled with nuance, subtle themes, and sometimes situations that defy our understanding in the moment.  If we want to please Him and find His grace in such moments, the temptation to accuse God of unfairness must be leashed and faith loosed!  When God allows us to go through awful circumstances, to walk in the dark, we have a critical choice. Will we wait for a new dream to replace the shattered one OR will we descend into bitterness and unbelief?

How I love this prayer of a desperate father who brought his son for healing to Jesus. “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” (Mark 9.24)  This is no slogan; it is Truth.  IF we will trust Him, He can give us a new dream, a new life that recovers JOY.

Honestly, to please Him, we must surrender our notions about ‘fairness.’  We must let go of the idea that we have a right to live a perfectly balanced life where the pain is always offset by the blessings, where the hard times are offset by the good times. Full faith is God-focused, not self-centered;  trusting that He is able to keep us secure in His love through the shattered dreams!

God’s answer to your prayer won’t fit on a bumper sticker! Don’t adopt slogans to cope. They cannot support you. Instead, reach out to people who will love you and hold you up until your faith is strong enough to touch the heart of God again. Reject the ‘out of context’ Scripture quotes, the simplistic answers, the psycho-babble, the half- truths… but do not reject God. Ask Him for courage to weep yet keep hope and faith intact as you pray — “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!”

Here is a word from the Word –

“In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD.

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

 …But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.” (Psalm 31:1-16, NIV)

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

Living Hope

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night

Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame

The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope

Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus Yours is the victory whoa

Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham © 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Sing My Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

One response to “A Thoughtful Faith”

  1. If you rather I not copy from your blog I understand but it’s mostly a scripture or song or great insight that you offer.

    Like

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