Monday, 11 November 2013

I have faith. But what do I have faith in?

I'll tell you what I don't have faith in.

I don't have faith that I will never go hungry. That I will never have a broken bone, or a broken heart. I don't have faith that I will be rich, or liked, or successful, or healthy. When I go to sleep at night, I don't have faith that I will wake up.

That's not to say that I don't think I might get some of these things, or that every time I sleep I fear for my life. It is quite likely that I will survive tonight, and many more nights to come. But I do not have faith that God will provide them, simply because I do not know if I need them.

The problem with humans - or, at least, one of the problems - is that we are limited in our knowledge. Not only our knowledge of the world around us, but also our knowledge of the future, and even of ourselves. I do know that if I don't eat regularly, I will go hungry. What I don't know is whether it is good for me to go hungry or not.

This is the essence of faith in God's work in our lives: not that He will provide what we want, but that He will provide what we need. Remember Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12? He had an affliction of some kind, and he asked God to remove it. But it stayed, because, as Paul realized later, it was there to teach him a lesson. Even Jesus was made to suffer throughout His life - not so that He would learn, but so that He could be tested, He could teach through example, and ultimately, so that He could take the punishment for our sins on us.

We won't be called to do that last thing, of course. Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient and complete. But we do still need to be tested, for a faith that survives only through comfort is no faith at all. We still need to provide an example to the world through our faith in suffering. And, like Paul, we still have much to learn that is best taught through trials and tribulations of all kinds. But we still suffer from a limited perspective: what Jesus knew, Paul learned, and we must learn too, is that what is best for us is so far beyond what we know.

So while I do not have faith that I will always be comfortable or content or happy, I do have faith that in all things, God will work for the good of those who love Him. What is good for us may hurt for a day, a year, or even a lifetime, but it will ultimately bring us closer to Him.

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