Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Faith


Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:12-15

How flighty we are as a human race. Now, I am not being judgmental towards anyone or any group in particular because I fit into this categorization too, but today I felt the need to expound upon the truths God set before me this morning and relate them in general to how our human nature drives us to act according to our circumstances and not according to the promises of God.

It cannot be denied because the evidence is all around us, when our circumstances look up we have lifted spirits and we are ready to give praise for every thing and every one around us, even those we don't so much agree with, and praise to objects that are not even the catalyst for our “good” situations. But, on the flip-side, when things in our life take a downward turn we are ready to grumble and complain about every thing and every one around us. In these pits of life we point our fingers at those who we don't agree with, even God, in an attempt to resolve the conflict in us that is in disparity about our pursuit for happiness. We see these scenarios played out every day in our own lives and in the lives of those around us as happiness and fulfillment are sought after and yet the pursuits always come up empty or only partially filled.

Where does God really fit into this type of up and down living? Well, He doesn't. Our lives may look a bit like roller coasters because of the circumstances which come into them, but God's word confirms to us time and time again through stories of old, that no matter what anyone may encounter, God is still with them - up or down. The above psalm talks about how the Israelites sang God's praise, but then the next stanza is quick to point out that they then forgot His works. If you were to read through Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles you would see how stories of the like run through the history of the nation of Israel. But don't be too quick to judge Israel until you do a bit more reading on the rest of the history of man. 

If you were to study the history of past nations and kingdoms you would see a similar patterns in how they not only rose but also how they fell as a direct result of the flighty nature of their leaders and people.

Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him.” 2 Chronicles 12:1

The natural tendency of humankind is to always trust in what is seen, what makes sense in the mind, what preserves self, and what restores happiness the quickest. But living on the roller coaster of life within the confines of natural tendencies does not allow for real peace or fulfillment. Rather, real peace, fulfillment, and stability through the ups and downs that life brings only comes through resolute faith in God and the work done by Jesus. And, we know through Hebrews 11:1 that faith is not something that is seen but it is “...the evidence of things not seen.” The stability of faith is based on the promises of God and His unchanging stability through all of our instability.

Moses was a great example of a person who had his perspective in the right place, one who saw with eyes of faith instead of eyes that only saw the tangible situations around him. This is what the author of Hebrews wrote about Moses having that type of perspective:

...for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27b

Psalm 27 also gives us a look into the means by which David endured all of the difficult situations which were thrown at him in his lifetime. The whole psalm is a beautiful testament to the enduring faith of David through the ups and downs of his life, but verse 13 is where he concludes his declaration of God's ability to stabilize him through his own roller coaster of life.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

Belief and faith in what we cannot see, but of what we have had confirmed through our relationship with God is what keeps us from either jumping off the roller coaster of life or cowering down under our seat looking for something physical or tangible to cling onto for dear life. The circumstances of our lives are bound to bring us to heights and depths that we do not understand, but God is in all of those places and He is always extending His love towards us at every peak, valley, twist, and turn.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

The main thing that we are left to wrestle with is, “Will we trust what God says in His word and live by faith in belief that He will do all He says He will do?” Our human natures tells us not to trust Him because we cannot see and we cannot always comprehend the ways of God, but we must always remember that our human nature is sinful to the core. Only when we allow the Holy Spirit to take over our nature and to allow us to live on faith in what we cannot see, will we be able to ride the roller coaster of life in confidence and in peace knowing there is no need to jump or cower because God is in control and has everything under control and He wants us to find joy in the secure ride He has set before us.

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