What Faith Knows

January 5, 2017

By Maria Fontaine

Audio length: 10:44
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No matter how dreadful, devastating, irreversible or hopeless things seem when you’re facing a major setback or even a life-threatening situation, the fact that you continue to actively trust in Jesus and refuse to let go of that abiding trust shows that you have great faith. Your faith is what pleases Him.

Faith isn’t all about you and your getting what you think is best. It’s all about Jesus and what He knows is best for you and others.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. We wouldn’t be hoping for something if we already had it in our hands. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. We wouldn’t need evidence that something is real if we could see it with our eyes.

When I look at some of the miracle-claiming men and women in the Bible, at a quick glance they seem to be so confident, so certain of the things they’re about to do. Next to such seemingly unwavering faith, we can start to feel a little wimpy and unsure of our own faith.

That’s because we’re seeing those miracles of the Bible through the perspective of hindsight. But try to put yourself in their shoes.

Consider how impossible the situation must have seemed for them at the time when they couldn’t see the outcome. Their perspective may have been very much like how you feel today when faced with something impossible. It can be encouraging to take a close look at their circumstances and what they were facing from their perspective.

For example, look at the three Hebrew men who were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down and worshipping the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. It might look like they were glowing with confidence in front of the head of the world empire, certain that nothing could happen to them in that fiery furnace. But could it be that they also battled fear and the uncertainty of what would happen?

It’s true that their friend, Daniel, held a great deal of power and influence, and he might have been able to stand up for them and rescue them from their fate, but he was away on a trip to another part of the empire. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were on their own, standing up for what they knew was right, and there they were, bound and forced to kneel before a king who saw himself as God, surrounded by the king’s jealous counselors for whom the presence of these Hebrews in the king’s court was a threat to their power. Those angry counselors had probably been instrumental in whipping up the king’s fury against the three Hebrew men.

Beneath the bold declaration of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that they would trust in God no matter what happened, they were just human and prone to the same fears that any one of us facing such a painful and horrifying fate would experience. Imagine the harrowing struggles they must have faced at the prospect of that raging furnace and the impossibility of any alternatives but to either bow to the image or face the torturous flames.

Faith isn’t the absence of fear; faith is what overcomes fear. My guess is that they dreaded with everything in them what was about to happen, but they still knew what they had to do. Their faith didn’t seem to be based on any assumption that their bodies would miraculously be impervious to the heat and fire. At least, that’s not what their words in the Bible indicate.

They said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the golden image which you have set up.”

They didn’t know what would happen, but they had faith that God was in control. Their faith was in the fact that no matter what, they knew God had a plan and they trusted Him to take care of them as He saw fit. They weren’t setting conditions according to what seemed best to them. They didn’t tell the king that their bodies couldn’t be burned. They knew God could do anything, but they weren’t basing their faith on God necessarily keeping them from burning up in the furnace.

Their faith was in God’s love and power, not in the results they thought would be best. Try to put yourself in the place of those who have faced impossibilities like this. What would your thoughts be? What would your fears be?

You know that God will ultimately make things right in the next life, but that knowledge doesn’t lessen the struggles of possibly facing very painful experiences or death. At this moment in time it’s not the next life that you are having to deal with, it’s the present.

Let’s take a look at Moses. There he was at the Red Sea, facing what looked like the certain extinction of himself and the Hebrew people. Behind him, only temporarily blocked by that pillar of smoke by day and fire by night, was an army of men who had not only suffered terribly through plagues because of him, but many had also lost parents or children or siblings to the final plague.

Those soldiers weren’t just following the Pharaoh’s orders. I imagine they wanted revenge and were bent on making these fleeing slaves suffer in the worst possible ways for what their God had done to the Egyptian people. I expect that Moses and the children of Israel were well aware of that.

Imagine the fear that may have threatened both Moses and those with him. It might have looked like their God had left them pinned down with no way of escape. Imagine the doubts that could have assailed Moses. While they had managed to leave the Egyptians behind for a while, he could have been hit with fear that he might have gotten it wrong somehow, and it could have appeared as if the men, women, and children who had followed him were going to be killed.

I don’t think that there was any doubt that Moses was desperately seeking God’s guidance; however, even when God told him what to do, it must have seemed impossible. Who had ever heard of the sea separating so people could walk through the middle of it? Moses just had to follow instructions, step by step, trusting that somehow God would come through for them.

When the sea parted and the people had to run into the now dry seabed, I imagine it would have been a pretty terrifying thing to do—a multitude of people scrambling down and down with the walls of water rising higher and higher on both sides.

If you had wanted to escape, where could you go? In the distance behind you, you could see the dark outline of that ominous army, starting to make its way after you onto the same seabed you were hurrying across. How long would it be before they caught up with you?

Moses just had to trust that no matter how bad things looked, no matter how impossible it seemed for them to make it to safety, they were in God’s hands come what may.

Jesus, the ultimate example of trusting His Father even unto death, still faced the fears. The Bible says He went through such struggles in the garden of Gethsemane that He sweat drops of blood! Faith isn’t the absence of fear, but the overcoming of fear with the truth. To overcome fear, you have to face it.

It can be pretty scary when you’re in a bad situation and you can’t see any natural way out of the dilemma. But that’s when faith that is built on Jesus, rather than on what you think has to happen, really comes to the fore. You just have to keep believing and trusting, no matter what things look like, as did Shadrach and his friends.

You have to keep walking on the solid ground of what God has told you to do in spite of dire circumstances, like Moses, knowing that no matter how hopeless it looks or how bad things get, Jesus has you in His arms.

I don't know what the future holds, but I know the one who does.

You may feel afraid of what you’re facing. You may not see anything you can do to fix the situation you’re in. But God’s intervention in your life isn’t based on your self-confidence. It’s based on your belief in Him and your trust in His unlimited power, goodness, and love.

You don’t have to believe that what you want to happen will always happen. You just have to believe that God can bring about what is best in His time and His way, if not in this life, then in the life to come, because you trust Him.

Faith knows what is most important to know: God will never leave you nor forsake you.

None of us know what lies ahead. We often can’t know if that setback we’re facing or the things we’re suffering will be gone in a minute or a month, or if they will last a lifetime. Our faith can’t be built on expected results that make sense to us. What faith knows is that Jesus will not leave us comfortless; He’ll be there walking with us through the fire, as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We’ll make it through whether by His supernatural care or by arriving in heaven at the end of our life, but either way, we can’t lose.

Believe Him and expect the best; it’s worth waiting for.

Jesus loves it when we look at the waves and the winds of adversity and do like Peter did with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Bid me come out to you on the water.” He was ready to jump right into the challenges because he’d seen God’s power in Jesus and was ready to put himself into those hands that he trusted would never fail him.

What are the challenges that you’re facing? What impossible situations are looming big in your life? Will you step out on the waters to meet Jesus right now so that His power can be manifested in your life? Take the step of faith, and even if you feel that momentary sinking feeling at times, you only have to call out to Him and He’ll bring you through in His perfect time and way.

Originally published July 2014. Republished on Anchor January 2017.
Read by Carol Andrews.

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