- How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
- “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
- “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
- “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
- “The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
“How can you believe in a God who lets bad things happen?”
We live in perilous times; dangerous times. Right now, fires are sweeping through the western United States. Earlier this year, the world was shaken by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, dust storms, and typhoons–all natural disasters–as well as gang violence, mass shootings, and political unrest. Often, it seems as if God is absent or powerless–sitting on the sidelines and letting bad things happen. Those of us who claim faith in an omnipotent, loving, and gracious God are mocked and challenged. How can we believe in the face of such evil and injustice? How can we offer the empty comfort of prayers and assurances?
It can be very difficult to face such challenges– there are no easy answers and “mic-drop” moments for us in this world. But that doesn’t mean that there are no answers or that our faith is “blind” or without merit.
The Bible is filled with examples of people who followed God in extraordinary circumstances, often in the face of great evil and with little logical expectation of God’s blessing or help. Abraham traded a wealthy, safe, and honorable life in his native land to live as a stranger and a nomad among foreigners. Even after God seemed to fulfill the promise of a son, he tested Abraham’s faith, asking him to sacrifice his only son Read the complete story here... Many people see this story as a horrific example of injustice and cruelty– and if Abraham had been required to go through with the sacrifice, it might seem even more unjust and cruel. However, there are two points to consider:
- God clearly planned to rescue Isaac–there was a ram in the thicket all ready and waiting. Abraham may not have known God’s purpose in asking such a thing, but he had faith that “God will provide for himself the lamb…” God may have been “testing” Abraham, but he already knew the outcome. The “test” was not for God–perhaps not even for Abraham–the test was for Isaac and all who would follow and experience the blessings that came through this amazing act of faith.
- The story of Abraham, like so many others, is given to illustrate difficult truths– sometimes about God’s character, or OUR character, or the nature and consequences of Sin. These stories also often form patterns of allegory, foreshadowing, or illustrations of key principles and events. Abraham was told to sacrifice his only and very beloved son– a horrible prospect for any father. But God provided a substitute sacrifice– a lamb– allowing Isaac to live and become the father of many nations. God’s plan for the salvation of the world was built on the same pattern. God sent his only and very beloved “son” to be the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all mankind– a horrible prospect for a loving Heavenly Father. And this time, the son willingly gave His life to become the fulfillment of the promise acted out in Abraham’s story.
And, of course, there are hundreds of other stories– throughout the Bible, and throughout history– that demonstrate the blessings that come through radical and even tiny acts of faith in God.
Hebrews, chapter 11 lists several examples. And a key verse in the chapter points out:
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 KJV)
These great examples of faith died without seeing the end results..but the end results are there for US to see! Faith in humanity– faith in Science– faith in ourselves– these are doomed to end in disappointment. Not because we don’t believe enough; not because these things are “bad”– but because faith needs an unshakeable, immovable, solid, and eternal foundation. Our faith in Christ is not a blind faith, an empty faith, or a desperate faith– it is a Faith that is firmly rooted in history, in observable facts, and in revealed truth. And even in the fiercest storms, the worst of disasters, and the overwhelming flood of hatred and evil in the world, our faith stands firm and sure– not because it is our faith, but because it is built on Him who is before and above all things–yesterday, today, and forevermore.