Last week’s blog was also on faith. This week will focus more on coping with the pandemic. However, I will go over faiht itself a little differently than last week. I’ve used this format before and And it was well received.
What faith is: Faith is believing that something or someone will perform as advertised. You don’t have faith that a chair will function correctly until you sit on it.. Expressing faith requires that you do something, which makes faith an action verb as well as a noun.
Two kinds of faith exist, secular or worldly faith, and biblical faith. And, the two are interrelated. Webster’s New College Dictionary says faith is believing something is true, believing, steadfast in allegiance., and given with strong assurance. In this world we get that assurance through first seeing how the thing or person performs.
The writer of Hebrews, who was most likely Paul, spends most of the book explaining faith. He wrote faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” ( Hebrews 11:1 ). That’s quite a bit different than the worldly definition. He leads up to the biblical definition in chapter 10 by explaining Old Testament definition of faith. He continues in chapter 11 to give examples of faith, saying that by it in the Old Testament the elders obtained good report. By faith, he wrote, that we believe the world was formed by the Word of God ( John 1:1-3, 14), that Able offered a better sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained a better witness, and Enoch was translated that he should not see death (Hebrews 11:2-5).
Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God, “because [whoever] comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). That’s different than secular faith. But like worldly faith, Christian faith has to have an object to have faith in. Our faith is in Christ as the Savior. We can no longer see God in the flesh. Christ is no longer here on earth. We obtain our faith by believing the biblical accounts that prove Jesus Christ is our salvation. Jesus told Thomas, “blessed is he has not seen, and yet believes”.
A father of a boy possessed by demons brought him to Jesus to be cured because he believed that Jesus could cure his son. Jesus told him the boy would be cured if the father believed in Jesus’ ability to cure him. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes”. The father gave a remarkable answer. He told Christ through his tears, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” ( Mark 9:14-24). The father of the boy understood how difficult strong belief in the supernatural is for humans.
Faith before proof:. We have a tendency to require physical proof of something or persons before we can have faith in it or them.. We have to know a chair will hold us before we have enough faith in it to sit down. Before I buy a new product, I research it on Google and yahoo and watch reviews on YouTube. If the reports are good, then I have a qualified faith in the product and buy it. But even then I’m a little apprehensive until I receive the product and can test it myself.
Proof of Christian faith comes after believing, which makes having faith in Jesus all the more difficult. Jesus told the boy’s father this when He said all things [that
god wills] are possible to the person who first believes. Moses had to have faith that God would safely lead the Hebrews out of Egypt before he confronted the Pharaoh. He had to believe in what God told him at the burning bush or it would have been impossible for him to then free his people from bondage. Alone he could do nothing, but through God all things God had planned for him to do were possible. And, that’s also the key for us when confronting the seemingly difficult or impossible in this world.
It’s God’s will, not ours, that must be done, as Jesus prayed to His Father in the garden before His arrest (Matthew 26:39). We see the proof of God’s work in our lives only after we have faith in Him and follow His will without question. Abraham told Sarah, to start packing because they were moving. Sarah asked why, and Abraham said because God told him they were. She asked where, and Abraham said he had no idea where, but wherever God led them was where they were moving to. If someone did that today most people would thing he’d gone bonkers. Sarah may have thought the same of Abraham. Never the less she packed. That in essence is what we’re to do: follow God without question.
Facing the Pandemic: The pandemic is not an unprecedented event. The world survived the Black Plague in Europe and the flu pandemic in the early 20th century. We’ll get through the COVID-19 pandemic also. But like the plague and the flu epidemic,there is a huge toll in human health and loss of life. And, like the plague and the flu, we’re facing an enemy we can’t see and we’re expected to have faith in an unseen God to bring us through. We can’t grab hold of the virus, but it can grab hold of us. And, that’s our proof that it exists. It’s in others -or us- getting sick or dying that proves its existence. God’s bringing us through the pandemic in the way He wants us to get through it is our proof that He is watching out for us. We’ll see the proof during and after the fact.
God’s will for you: God has a plan for your surviving the pandemic. You may or may not like the plan, and it may or may not be easy, but you can be assured that you will get through. You may even catch the virus if it’s His will that you do so. It’s not just getting through this that’s important, it’s how you get through that counts. If you follow God’s direction for your life through the pandemic it will be to the glory of God.
All we do is ultimately for His sake. And He wants all people to come to Him, which is also for our benefit (John 3:16). Your following His will for you will allow others to see His work in your life, and they will want Christ also. Your actions during the COVID-19 crisis is your testimony to God’s love as He expresses it through your life. In the movie “The Hiding Place”, a sour old woman watched Corrie Ten Boom every day while they were held in a German concentration camp during World War Two. She finally told Corrie, “I want what you have”. What Corrie had was Christ. Corrie’s living according to God’s will through the ordeal led to old woman to Jesus.
Finding His will for you: You can’t phone, text email God or watch Him on YouTube to learn His will for you. But you can talk to Him one on one through prayer. Through your heart-felt prayers for guidance He will give you His plan for your journey through the pandemic. You also have His guidance in the Bible as to your conduct at all times, but which is more crucial now than ever. Like Abraham, you probably will not know exactly how you will get through, but like God’s leading Abraham to a better land He will lead you to a better post-pandemic life. And in so doing, you will bring others with you that want what you have. You probably won’t know who most of them are. But they, like the woman in the movie, will be watching you. And, how you behave will be crucial to their eternal life.
The best testimony for Jesus is how we live our lives through adversity. Abdu Murray with the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has said that God blesses people with adversity so that so that others will be led to Christ through their navigating the crisis with God’s guidance. Hardship is a blessing? Absolutely! Jesus told us, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” ( John 16:33). And in Christ we also overcome the world. Everything Jesus did during His ministry was to the glory of God so that people would come to Him. That is our standard also.
Start now: Regular readers knew this was coming. But it’s true that any journey starts with the first step, and the sooner you take that step, the sooner you’ll complete your journey. Start praying for guidance through the pandemic today. Follow His direction whether you like it or not. A popular bumper sticker a few decades back said, “God said it, i believe it, and that settles it”. The error in that statement is that what God says is settled whether you believe it or not. It borders on blasphemy to imply that the Creator’s sovereignty depends upon His creation’s sanction. Moses didn’t want to confront the Pharaoh. Jesus would rather not have gone to the cross, but never the less they did God’s will. If you earnestly pray for God’s guidance and follow it, the pandemic will be a great opportunity to lead others to Christ. So start today.