~by John Roberts.
Faith is one of the most challenging components of the Christian life. For those of us who call ourselves Christ followers, faith is the evidence that Christ has been given authority over our hearts and, in turn, our lives. For the Christian, faith is hard. When life is difficult we often ask, “Where is God in all of this?” The answer to this question cannot be found in our discovery of where God has escaped to, but rather how much we have distanced ourselves from His presence. In our intimate relationship with Christ, our faith grows to maturity and transcends the circumstances of this world.
How do we achieve a dependence on God that produces a mature faith? Faith is a byproduct of an intentional and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we invest in this relationship, we make a faith deposit that will be available to us when life presents challenges. When your children are healthy or when there is a little extra money in the bank account — faith in God is simple and accessible. In the more strenuous places in life, our faith is truly tested.
Scripture is filled with examples of tested faith. I am reminded of Abraham. In Genesis 22, God asks him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on an altar. Abraham obeys God, even though his son represents far more than just his offspring. Isaac represented the covenant promise of God that all the nations of the earth would come from Abraham. Killing Isaac would not only end his family line but would seemingly sever the covenant promise of God. But God does not break His covenant promises with anyone, especially those who place their faith in Him. Even the author of Hebrews explained that Abraham’s faith was so strong that he believed God might raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). In the end, God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac and blessed him for his obedient faith.
In this story, we see how Abraham trusted God with his only son because of his relationship with God. Abraham knew God intimately and had seen His faithfulness in every aspect of life. When God told Abraham to act, he could respond in obedience, even when the situation did not make sense. Abraham’s relationship with God should mirror ours as we actively pursue our relationship with Him.
Admittedly, our relationship with God does look a bit different now that Jesus has come onto the scene. Those who preceded Christ on earth had a different level of understanding concerning the nature of God because the Son of God had not yet come. We now have the entire Bible to study and know the rest of the story. Those of us who accept Christ and put our faith in Him carry both a great advantage and an even greater responsibility to understand the difference between belief and knowledge.
Most people today have knowledge that Christ existed as a man, but fewer believe Him to be the God-Man. Jesus commended those who would one day believe saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) That’s us! Make no mistake: Jesus knew how our faith would look today. He knew how hard it would be to place our faith in things unseen when so many tangible distractions pervert our culture. The fact that Christ acknowledges our faith in Scripture can be a source of strength for us in difficult times.
Believing what we cannot see is synonymous with being a Christian. The author of Hebrews talks poignantly about this when he states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) There are two eternally uplifting words in this passage associated with our faith in God. The first is hope. King David acknowledges this by simply proclaiming, “My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7) In another Psalm, the author explains how God delights in those who put their hope in the unfailing love of God (Psalm 147:11).
By identifying our hope in a loving relationship with Christ, we delight in the Father and align the hope of what we cannot see with the love of God in whom we have placed our faith. The second encouraging word in the passage from Hebrews is assurance. In life, it is our faith in God that carries us through trials. It is always in the times of turmoil that we need an extra boost of heavenly comfort. Our faith gives us assurance that everything will be okay. God has provided salvation through Christ, so whatever may come, we can join Fanny Crosby singing, “Blessed assurance; Jesus is mine.”
As we navigate life’s challenges and triumphs, we must know this:Faith doesn’t just happen. It is a result of a relationship with God rooted in the truth of Scripture and fueled by the dependence we place on Christ in our lives. In faith, we respond by emulating Christ with our words, work, and actions. Whether in the privacy of our homes or in the spotlight of the pulpit, we must represent Christ. Our hope and assurance is found in Christ alone. Delight in the God who allowed you to wake up this morning. Trust in Christ who relentlessly pursues you. The journey of faith is tough but be encouraged and do not grow weary in your work. Regardless of the circumstance, put your faith in God — the author and perfecter of your faith.
About the Author: John Roberts is the lead writer, editor, and content developer for the Church Resources division of Capitol Christian Music Group—including Brentwood Benson, Worship Together, and Worship Together Kids. John is also a studio musician, producer, and worship leader in Nashville, TN. He holds a MA in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and lives in Thompson Station, TN with his wife, Lee Ann, and their two children.