By Tom Yeakley
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Faith involves the unknown and the unseen. Living by faith is the normal lifestyle of the believer. Life begins by believing a promise of eternal life and forgiveness of sin (1 John 2:25) and continues until we see Jesus face to face. We’re naturally fearful and anxious when dealing with the unknown, and faith is not the absence of these powerful emotions, but instead the ability to control rather than to be controlled by them.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:8-11).
The Apostle Paul faced many stressful and anxious moments, and there are several important points in this passage. First, God allowed Paul to enter a time of extreme pressure. The stress he experienced was far beyond his human ability to endure. In fact, he had given up hope of living through it! Second, Paul tells us that God allowed this experience to teach him to rely only on Him who raises the dead. If God can raise the dead, then all other matters are no problem! God is seeking to raise up dependent children who depend only on Him. Paul testifies that God has delivered him from the past peril, will deliver him from whatever perils he is currently facing, and will continue to deliver him in the future. Paul recruited prayer for his current trials so that when God answered many would give thanks for God’s work.
Faith is not trusting what we can see, but believing the unseen. It is not looking at circumstances and probabilities, but at Him who knows no limits to his resources and power. When Abraham was 75 years old he was told that he and Sarah would have a son through whom the world would be blessed. For twenty-five years Abraham walked with the promise of God while his body aged. Finally, at the age of 100, Isaac was born.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” – Romans 12:18-21
God knows our tendency to shrink back when facing the unknown and unseen. So, He gives us promises that are backed by His character and resources, that we can cling to as anchors for our souls in times of trials. These promises are the bedrock of our faith that keep us believing when hope is gone.
Here is what A.W. Tozer said concerning walking by faith: “We must remember that God always acts like Himself. He has never at any time anywhere in the vast universe acted otherwise than in character with His infinite perfections. This knowledge should be a warning to the enemies of God, and it cannot but be an immense consolation to His friends.
“Though God dwells in the center of eternal mystery, there need be no uncertainty about how He will act in any situation covered by His promises. These promises are infallible predictions. God will always do what He has promised to do when His conditions are met. And His warnings are no less predictive: “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).
“In the light of all this how vain is the effort to have faith by straining to believe the promises in the Holy Scriptures. A promise is only as good as the one who made it, but it is as good, and from this knowledge springs our assurance. By cultivating the knowledge of God, we at the same time cultivate our faith. Yet while so doing we look not at our faith but at Christ, its author and finisher. Thus, the gaze of the soul is not in, but out and up to God. So, the health of the soul is secured.”
[The Incredible Christian by A.W. Tozer, Tyndale House Publishing, Wheaton, Illinois 1964 p. 28]
J.O. Sanders said, “God encourages us to ask as freely for the impossible as the possible, since to Him all difficulties are the same size–less than Himself.” Trust Him! Trust His promises!!
“Great faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His word and taking the next step.” Joni Eareckson Tada
What trial of faith has God allowed in your life to draw you to Himself?
What is He asking you to trust Him for?