The location of your faith is crucial. For some, faith is little more than the desire to keep a positive attitude, the power of optimism, a sense that everything is going to be okay. This is basically having faith in faith. Then there are those who trust in God’s work among them. They believe strongly in what God does and acknowledge their confidence that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called unto saving faith in Christ. This second type of faith is better than the first type but it is still not sufficient. We are not merely to think positively or to merely trust that God will do us good. Positive thinking can be severely hampered by its dependence on our present circumstances always being in line with our life plans or presumed pathway. Most often with this type of faith, if things are going swimmingly then we are confident and happy – this often masquerades as faith. When it comes to merely trusting that God loves us and works for our good we are left slightly vulnerable in that our definition of what is “good” is limited to what we are experiencing in the present and usually has our comfort, ease and pleasure as its core. God can actually be working eventual good through the immediacy of something bad, painful or difficult so this type of faith is not always accurate.
You see, the location of our faith is crucial to our ability to persevere. We cannot merely anchor our faith in what God is doing because, frankly, many times we do not understand what He is doing and we rarely see the totality of what He is working in the present moment. So where then should we tether or faith? Not in what is happening to us in life. Nor in what we are trusting God to do on our behalf. Our faith must be anchored in something that never changes: We must trust in the character of God. Not so much our interpretation of what we see Him doing or want Him to do…but in who He says that He is. This is where we must locate our faith.
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain my own ways before Him.” – Job 13:15
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
The suffering saint of ancient days, Job, declared above that He was committing to trust God even as Job believed he was suffering unjustly and dying. Habakkuk proclaimed that he would remain joyful in God’s saving grace even if Habakkuk were to lose all his material goods and have no prospect of regaining them in the future (an empty harvest a she described not only kills today but also signals doom for tomorrow). In Daniel’s prophecy above we read the unified words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who humbly said that they did not know whether or not God would save them from the burning furnace, but they declared that they would remain faithful to Him no matter the outcome of their situation. We should pause and consider how what they decided compares to what they were experiencing.
Job, Habakkuk and the 3 Hebrew men were in clear jeopardy of losing it all. Physical health, material security and the potential of living another day were no longer guaranteed to them. They had no idea what God would do. They chose to remain joyfully & trustingly submitted to Him as they waited to see what would happen next. This is the revealing of what biblical faith must become in our own lives. We must believe that what we perceive God is doing can be wrong… but what God says of Himself never is. So we learn to look at all that is happening around us through the filter of who God has promised that He is and ever will be to us. We do not interpret God through our current or future circumstances but, by faith, we must learn to interpret our circumstances through His unchanging character and word. When God’s character and our experience do not seem to properly align, by faith we retain our confidence in who He is and wait on clarity concerning what we are experiencing. If we begin to view His unchanging character through the lens of what we perceive He might be doing in our difficulty, our faith begins to weaken, our trust in Him threatens to become suspicion of Him and our blessing can become our bitterness.
Faith sometimes must cry out, “I do not know what You are doing, God. But I know who You are.”
There is no other place for our trust to safely rest.