Earlier this week I became a great auntie once again! The skies were lit beautifully the morning of her arrival. Pearly pink clouds stretched and rolled across the river. It was as if the angels were dancing, stirring the heavenlies. What joy in this special delivery — a sweet cherub in residence! This couple has traveled a long and difficult journey in becoming parents.
It would be so much easier if we could know in the midst of our difficulties that it really is all going to work out. Everyone hopes so and some will say so but knowing so is a matter of faith. All along, this mommy and daddy seemed to have blessed assurance all would, indeed, be well.
Faith is not just wishful thinking. It is not Pollyanna delusions or rainbows-and-unicorns illusions. Faith is a gift from God to encourage those who will believe.* Some people have great, steady, faith; others are completely lacking. Most of us struggle somewhere in between.
I wonder if faith is like a muscle — the more we use whatever we have, the stronger it becomes? There is no shame in needing more faith; it is a gift God loves to give. He is generous to increase our faith in myriad ways when we ask.
This is not to say we will receive everything we ask for if we can conjure up enough faith. Faith in faith is useless! And it is certainly not to say those with great faith experience fewer hardships, setbacks, or trials. It is only to say that God loves to give good gifts to His children.* Faith is an encouraging gift, infusing power to believe. Those of great faith know God is good, all the time.
Mark tells a story of a desperate and helpless father lacking in faith. In honest anguish, he cried, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” So many times, that has been my own plea. I believe. I do! But I lack faith enough for this, whatever it may be. God help me believe! I take courage that Jesus healed his son anyway.
Faith leaps the gap between obvious, tangible, provable, and that which we also know to be true. There is no explanation for faith. It is only to be found in the evidence of things not seen.* When we know, we know. It is a God thing.
Many times God has built up my faith by demonstrating that He cares about the simplest of details that matter to me. I’ll never forget my first adventure along the west coast. Three of us rented a car and took off from Portland one morning with a sketchy map. ‘Pooh’ was hungover and rather reluctant about the journey. Neither ‘Eeyore’ nor I had never seen the Pacific. We refused to return without an ocean experience! We all really wanted a sunset, too. Through forest and field, uphill and down, we made our way, ’round about. I prayed all day, through incessantly drizzling rain, for God to show up.
For awhile it seemed Lewis and Clark’ s settlement, or perhaps Pooh’s misguided attempt at goat trail / cliffside climbing (whereby Tigger was nearly lost, too, and Eeyore said, “Why do I always have to be the responsible adult?”) would be the highlight of our day. But we reached the coast — serendipitously landing at the iconic Haystack Rock — just in time for the sky to clear and sun to set in Pacific perfection. Glorious!
Up to our ankles in icy saltwater, Pooh and Eeyore could hardly believe our good fortune. But I knew — I knew — it was God. Despite the weather or the forecast, all day long I had been saying I thought God would show up for a sunset. And then when He did, my heart sang in praise. “Thank you. Thank you! For the substance of things hoped for…“* My wavering faith grew that day.
Of course, I’ve pleaded and prayed many times to seemingly no avail. Like a three year old, I have childish tactics, asking God to prove Himself on my terms. I know that He cares for me, and delights to fulfill the desires of my heart.* But faith is not a magic wand to make everything happen my way.
God will do what He will do. He is God. I am not. I’ve learned to trust the God of small things in all things. In the jobs I didn’t get, illness that didn’t heal, hardships and heartache, He has proven faithful. God’s perfect will for each one of us is so much better than anything we can contrive on our own.
He does more than sunsets. Keep faith!