It was six years ago that I cradled the phone while carrying in an armload of firewood. I walked gingerly over the crunching ice as icicles dripped on my head from the porch overhang. It was our realtor, again. It was very bad news, she said, and it was. The town had given the sellers of what I believed to be our future home an ultimatum: pay about $39,000 for a new septic or re-market the house as having fewer bedrooms. Our realtor reasoned that after all the compromising that had already taken place, this was highly unlikely.
I placed the phone on its cradle, armed with a new prayer agenda. I sighed, helpless, but for God. I couldn’t share this new wrench that had been thrown in the mix with my husband. He was ill in the hospital. Both of our families were in different states, and our children were still all too young to understand. For the most part our friends were weary. We had so many needs as a family. In fact, this story comes to mind because that day, six years ago, I had felt the very same way that I felt just last night as I was falling asleep. Our recent circumstances were piling up to create a foreboding mountain, and I was focusing on it. I had lost sight of God and how big He was.
The terrible thoughts of what could happen if I failed to make the right choices and do the right things were shut down by sleep.
I didn’t have to make a fire this morning to keep my kitchen warm, as I had for years in my former home. The thought challenged me. As I stood in my warm kitchen, I remembered His faithfulness. I soberly reflected upon the “woe is me” thoughts of last night. The words of Hebrews 11:6 came to my mind;
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 tells us clearly the two things that God counts as true faith. First, that we “believe that he exists.” Most of us do, but at our darkest moments we sometimes believe that His existence is detached from us. Some translations say that we must believe that He “is.” Sometimes we simply act like He isn’t. We believe that it’s all up to us, that He is separate and uninvolved, unconcerned, or that He gave up on us a long time ago and went away, leaving us to fend for ourselves. But that isn’t the case. He wants us to believe that He is.
The second thing that He counts as faith is our “believ(ing) that…he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” There are two conditions in this aspect of faith. We must believe that He is a God who rewards. Yes, God lovingly gives us good things! A reward is defined as, “a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort, or achievement.” Even if we fail or fall, He blesses us for our service and effort, in addition to our achievement! Even if you try and fail, He sees and He rewards us!
Faith is not passive. It is based on a passionate and interactive relationship with the God who IS.
Yes, God is ok with us reading His word and requiring it of Him. From this passage, it’s clear that He rewards our delving into His word and pulling out nuggets of truth and promises and requiring, even demanding, them of Him. This verse tells us that we can say, “God, you said you’d meet my every need! I believe you do! I know you will. Please release the fulfillment of that promise. Please ‘give us this day our daily bread’. In Jesus name, Amen!” (Matthew 6:11) This is what faith looks like. Faith isn’t asking “Will He?” It's declaring that “He will!” This is faith that God rewards.
When we look back in gratitude to God for all that He has done for us, our faith is strengthened. We become confident that He did it before, He will do it again. Hebrews 11:1-2 says,
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
We may feel presumptuous or demanding, but God doesn’t take offense at our confidence in Him.
Trust that God can work in your job, in your family, in your finances and in your health. He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) If it seems to be a dark time for you, look back, and thank Him for what He’s done and how far you’ve come. Don’t focus on the circumstances. Instead, focus on Him. Praise Him for Who He is. Worship Him in trust.
As I look back to my discouragement and hopelessness last night, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I rested safely under His wings, but still doubted Him. Psalm 91:4 says,
“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
So often we huddle, protected by our loving God, and still fret. These are the moments that we have the chance to rise up in faith and in doing so, actually please our God! These are the moments to say, “I refuse to doubt. Here’s the opportunity to really please you, Lord. I’m deciding to choose faith!” That’s when our expectations should rise because of all that He promises to those who trust Him. That’s when we can be like David and the faithful men and women in the Bible, exclaiming,
“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.’–Psalm 5:3