What’s walking by faith–what’s it’s purpose, and what does it look like in real life? Does this refer to whether we believe God exists or not, or is it more relating to how we get through life when things get hard?
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7 NKJV)
Let’s face it, life can get difficult. Just ask poor Lazarus, who sat in front of the rich man’s gate and got no relief from his misery–ever. Yes, I know; he’s a fictional character from one of Jesus’ parables, but there are people like him everywhere–it’s just that their names are Dan or Ann or something else, instead of Lazarus. And how we respond to them matters–that we don’t ignore their misery because it’s not our misery.
But what about when it’s you who’s struggling? You may not literally be homeless, but maybe the circumstances of life are ratcheting up and everything seems to be falling apart to the point that you don’t know if you’ll come out okay at the other end of this particular trial. What then? Do the trying, or even dire, circumstances of your life mean God has forgotten you, or not care? Is He going to help? Were you wrong to believe in Him? Worse yet–is He not even real?
No–God is very certainly absolutely real! And yes, He cares. But He allows the trying, even seemingly unbearable, circumstances in our lives to teach us to rely on Him: to teach us that He is everything–everything we ultimately have when all else falls away and apart, and everything we ultimately need–a difficult lesson that many of us have trouble grasping in any other circumstance.
When everything else is threatened, we turn to Him in desperation to plead for help, because we see there’s no way we can ever fix the problem ourselves. And if it turns out that He takes it away anyway, we come to see that we really can survive without it; that as long as we still have Him, we’re okay and it’s okay. This is why Jesus told the rich young man to go sell everything and come follow Him–because He needed that lesson; he needed to see that he didn’t need all the things, just Jesus. But he never learned that lesson because he didn’t do it, and Jesus didn’t force his hand–Hd didn’t make him. But God sometimes does make us. Sometimes He pries the other things we are so desperately grasping out of our hand, to show us how precious He is and that it is Him alone we ultimately need.
Of course we need the basics of life: food, and a place to live, and protection from the elements, and these God promises His own (“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT); many times, in fact, He gives far more than just our basic survival. But our lives are His and His goal is to make us into the people He wants us to be in Christ, and that involves pruning–a cutting away of things superfluous to that end.
Without trying circumstances, we may never call out to Him; it’s human nature–why ask for help if I’ve got it covered? But God wants us to relate to Him, to know Him well ourselves–and we get to that place by reaching out to Him, and then seeing that He reaches back down to us to answer and provide!
So how do you walk by faith? By responding to our difficult circumstances as God instructs us to: By
“…not be[ing] anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present[ing] your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
So, when life gets tough, do what you can reasonable do, then bring the remainder before God in prayer–knowing that He cares for you! Remember that Jesus promised, “Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NCV) And if it’s really serious, supplicate and supplicate and supplicate–be the persistent widow! But then have peace; know that your Father in Heaven loves you beyond measure and is giving you what you really need–even if it makes no sense whatsoever to you. Living by faith not by sight is, unfortunately, a difficult skill learned most often through trials or deprivation–but it is where Christ wants us.
So, when things get really hard and it’s obvious the problem is beyond me, I need to 1) present it to God; 2) then ask and ask and not stop asking; 3) then walk by faith not sight, acknowledging that, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank You for the love You have for me; thank You that You care for me and see what’s going on with me; and thank You that You are working “…all things…together for good to those who love…[You][–ME!–] to those who are the called according to…[Your] purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) Amen.