We like to think we are in control. And, when things are going along smoothly in our lives it may even feel as if we are. It only takes a moment, however, for our circumstances to change and for us to be faced with a harsh, in-your-face reminder that we are most certainly NOT in control. When this occurs, we immediately scramble for answers. If we cannot be in control, we at least want understanding or knowledge of what is going on around us. In our fallen humanness, we want to be in control and we want to walk based on what we see and/or what we know.
The Gospel calls us to walk contrary to these two desires. We are called to lay down what control we think we have in surrender to God who is truly in control. We are called to walk not based on what we can see, but by faith in God who sees and knows all things. And, this is to happen not only when things seem difficult, but at all times, demonstrating our complete surrender to, and faith in, Jesus as our savior and king.
Without question, God uses the difficult situations in our lives to teach us these things. Why? Because during these times we are forced to acknowledge our own lack of control and understanding. So, we have a choice during these times. We can either receive difficult circumstances as a loving provision of a good God who desires to teach us to trust Him and to walk by faith, or we can become overwhelmed by our circumstances and turn away from the only One who can provide what we need in the midst of the situation. It is the power of the Gospel at work in us through the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for us to respond the right way. We can certainly not do it in our own strength.
The last seven months have been an opportunity for our family to experience these lessons firsthand. During this time, Abbie’s hair has literally broken off and her stomach has hurt every day, from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep. Our immediate response is to seek answers. To date, we have seen 7 pediatric specialists, none of whom have been able to tell us what is going on with Abbie. We have an appointment with another specialist next Monday. So, what have we learned from all of this?
2) Our default is to act like we are in control, and to walk by sight/knowledge rather than by faith. The Gospel calls us to surrender to God’s control and to walk moment by moment by faith in Him – whether our circumstances are difficult or not.
3) Because Christ died and rose again, and fills us with His Spirit, we can have joy in the midst of difficult circumstances, knowing that God is using those circumstances to increase our faith and to teach us to live in daily surrender to Him. (see James 1:2-4)
4) Even if God does not answer our prayer to take away the difficult circumstance, He will never leave us alone and He will show us that His grace really is sufficient for us. (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – note that Paul even said he would boast in his weaknesses as they were opportunities for Christ’s strength to be shown in him. That is surrender and faith!)
5) Because Hebrews 11:6 tells us that, without faith, it is impossible to please God, we must always walk by faith, not just when we seem to have no other alternative.
Our prayer is that we will learn these lessons well as we trust God and lean hard on Him during this time of difficulty and uncertainty. We pray that God will teach us to walk by faith during these difficult times so that we will continue to walk by faith in Him even when things seem to be going smoothly. I recently saw this helpful quote describing faith from Tim Keller posted by a friend on Facebook:
Faith is not opposed to reason, but to feelings and appearances. Faith begins with a death to self-trust. It is going on something despite our weakness, despite our feelings and perceptions, it is taking God at His word when there is nothing else to go on, when feelings and common sense seem to contradict his promise.”
– Tim Keller on Romans 4.
We are taking God at His Word. He is faithful. May we walk by faith in Him in such a way that others will be amazed, not by our strength, but by the awesomeness of the God in whom we trust!
(Photo courtesy of David Gallagher on Flickr)