Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Even When We Are Faithless

Mahria just called me. Weeping. The small diamond in her 32-year-old engagement ring fell out of its setting. It's lost. The stone is small enough to give us little hope of ever finding it. We were kids. I was working at In-n-Out Burgers. It was the early 80's. I couldn't afford much. But I put it on her finger and she said, "Yes." There were tears then, too.

Today, I've exchanged texts with a brother in Christ. I respect and admire him as much as any man I know. Like me, he is trying to provide for his family by raising support from generous Christians. It's never easy. Some Christians have likely told him to get a job. I've heard it, too. Some have probably told him to be more aggressive when asking for support. Some have probably told him not to ask anyone. "Trust God. He will provide." Truth. It's not always easy, though.

A sister in Christ contacted me on Twitter. "How do I stay humble and joyful and not make things about me, even in a storm?" Life is full of storms. They come in different sizes and levels of intensity. Our natural reactions: worry, fear, doubt, even anger. And then, always reactions to other reactions instead of faithful responses to the initial trauma: remorse, repentance, resolve.

It's discouraging to feel faithless, to be faithless, in times of crisis. "I keep doing this. Am I saved? Why can't I be like those 'strong' Christians who seem to have it altogether? Nothing seems to shake them."

Dear Christian: the "strong" Christians are shaken, too. Stop and think. Maybe they seem so strong today because their faith has been shaken to the core many, many times. You're probably seeing the result of faithlessness turned faithfulness over much time and after much refining.

I've experienced times of spiritual darkness so black, when the well seemed so deep, with the sludge at the bottom so think and immobilizing, all I could pray was this: "Lord, I will not deny you, today!"

Paul wrote letters to his son in the faith, Timothy, a young man tasked with responsibilities far bigger than his abilities who struggled with his own demons: timidity, a weak constitution, discouragement. In his second letter to his young lieutenant, Paul wrote:
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Even when we are faithless...

My Christian brothers and sisters: God cannot and will not deny Himself.

A lost stone more precious than the stone's intrinsic value will not cause God to be faithless. An uncertain tomorrow, night's filled with questions about how God will provide in the morning, will not cause God to be faithless. In the midst of our lives' storms, trials that come with the ferocity of a tornado or a hurricane, God won't experience a moment of faithlessness. He remains perfectly faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

My sister in Christ asked me, "How do I stay humble and joyful and not make things about me, even in a storm?" Stop looking at your faithlessness in those moments and look to the faithfulness of God. No matter how unfaithful you are in times of uncertainty, instability, frailty, even tragedy, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself. He will not deny Himself.

Does this truth give the Christian a license to sin, to remain unfaithful? May it never be! Understanding the faithfulness of God should help the Christian to be more faithful in difficult times. Faithlessness should shrink under such penetrating heat. He cannot deny Himself.

How humbling to view my faithlessness in light of the faithfulness of God. What joy it brings me to know He is faithful even when I am faithless. How comforting to know His constant and perfect, self-affirming faithfulness is my assurance of peace when the world has and offers no peace (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). The Joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). I can consider it all joy when I encounter various trials (James 1:2-4). God is faithful, even when I am faithless, because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

God is good. God is present. God is in control. God is sovereign. God is watching. God is orchestrating and moving. God is faithful and true.

Mahria called me again, as I wrote this article. She found the diamond--a stone so small that any thought of finding it was as likely as finding a particular grain of sand.....on a beach. It was nestled at the bottom of one of her purse pockets.

Even when I am faithless. Thank you, Lord.

Image Credit: Tornado

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