Faith, Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16
Let’s take a few minutes and think about a topic all of us need to address, sometimes on a daily basis — Faith. Faith is that incredible thing that brings us great comfort, yet it is also the very thing we oftentimes grasp for and find elusive. Faith is the defining characteristic of great Biblical figures of the past like Noah, Abraham, Paul, and Jesus. It seemed they had superhuman faith. Paul tells us that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. When we have faith we are certain of things that are not readily apparent. Like Salvation through Jesus Christ, Jesus’ second coming, the Divine inspiration of Scripture, and our citizenship in Heaven. We believe without having seen physical proof. Faith is the conduit through which God’s Grace flows into and through us. Without faith, we feel empty, frightened, lost, and very alone. Without faith life becomes meaningless, even cruel.
There is one thing about faith though that we all wish were not so, that is, in order for faith to grow, it must be tested. Faith, like a muscle, must be exercised or it shrivels up and gets weak. However, we all know life on this earth certainly presents ample faith testing experiences. Life is unpredictable, and always filled with uncertainties. And indeed as a result, our faith gets tested. As unlikely as it may seem, these trials although troubling to us when we endure them, have the ability to strengthen us if we approach them in faith. How do you respond to trials when you encounter them?
Perhaps we should start with how not to respond to troubles. The improper response is to “panic and give in to fear.” Panic is the feeling of being out of control and grabbing at any straw to save ourselves. Sound familiar? Do you grab for straws sometimes? Are you putting on a good show to others, but inside you are coming apart at the seems. Is your business is failing, or you can’t find a job? Is your marriage falling apart? Or are you living between doctor appointments and scared to death about what he or she may tell you? Is the trouble you are facing sending you into a panic? Are you afraid?
I want you to know something. There is another choice besides panic and fear. You can find peace in the midst of the storm. Jesus can calm the raging tempest inside you. In Jesus you can find help and hope. All that is needed is one thing, faith. All Jesus asks is “believe in me”. From Abraham to Mother Theresa and beyond, faith has given countless Christian believers the strength to deal with trouble and the inspiration to do extraordinary things.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Jesus said, if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can say to this mountain be removed and cast into the sea and it will be so.
You see, Christians are not perfect. Christians are not in control. Christians don’t have all the answers. Christians are not better than other people. But, faithful Christians have learned, like Abraham, that God can be trusted. God can be trusted to give peace in the midst of the storm. God can be trusted to take what is evil and transform it into something good. God can be trusted to strengthen us in the midst of trouble. God can be trusted to cleanse us from sin through his son Jesus and to receive us into eternal life when we die. God can be trusted! All we need do is reach out in faith. In order to do that we have to let go of our death grip on our troubles, leap off the ledge of doubt, stretch out our arms, and let our Father in Heaven catch us. He always will. And each time we are willing to let go and put our trust in God our faith is strengthened.
When a seemingly insurmountable problem or trouble presents itself, step one is not to allow it to overcome us, not to panic, not to try to take in on ourselves, not to run away, but to bring it to Jesus. Secondly, we must then be willing to do as he tells us, and allow God’s power to work through us as God chooses to work through us. That is the exercising of faith.
Is it time for you to let go of something, or many things, that have you weighted down and stressed out? Simply trust God. Let go and step out in faith. If you are willing to do that, I am certain you will not be disappointed!
The writer is the pastor for Spring Creek Christian Church and Port Jefferson Church of Christ.