In our world, we catch our breaths at a glimpse of something beautiful one second and the next moment we find our hearts racing with anticipation and impending horror as the unthinkable unfolds before our eyes. With one breath, we provide hope and encouragement in someone’s struggle to make a good choice, and with our very next breath, find ourselves awash with sadness as we see the devastating effects of a choice gone very wrong. Our faith in humankind soars as we watch someone keep a promise, yet we become heartbroken over a promise forgotten. We search the faces of those around us, looking for “something special,” often finding mere traces of hope–or lots of despair.
Contrasting feelings such as these bring us to ask ourselves deep questions: “How can I achieve stability in my life, especially when I don’t know what will happen next? How can I find rest, when so many opposing feelings stay stirred up inside my heart? Where is God in all this unrest?” As I began my own personal journey with Jesus Christ many years ago, questions like these kept running around inside my head. There was some comfort in the familiar of what I could see, touch, examine, and know, but this constant uncertainty of what might happen next really did not offer solid ground for day-to-day living.
As I grew in knowing God and the Scriptures, Hebrews 11:1 was a big help. It says there, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Part of what I was looking for could be found by going backwards in the verse. Though I couldn’t see it, or touch it–the foundation I needed for a steady heart was invisible. The foundation was based on faith, and for this foundation to become firm, I needed to understand something more about faith and what it means to trust God.
But just what is faith? Getting down to the nitty gritty of what faith is all about can be tricky. People often confuse “faith” with “religion.” “What faith are you?” they ask. When it’s used that way, faith is a noun. But the kind of faith we want to talk about is a verb – faith in its action form. The Bible, further down in Hebrews 11, tells us “without faith it is impossible to please Him (meaning God).” Additionally, Romans 14:23b makes it pretty black and white: “whatever is not of faith is sin.” These verses impacted my definition of faith so that I began to realize that faith is “believing whatever God says about something–and whatever means whatever.” What I see, touch, hear or feel cannot determine my foundation. And if that is true, in order to walk out my faith, it becomes very important to know what God says–and then to stand on what He says no matter what.
As I worked through these verses and “faith being substance and evidence,” it became clear that the most important aspect of faith is about the object of our faith. For instance, if I walk into a room and have a choice to sit down in a broken, dilapidated old chair or one that looks pretty sturdy, which one do you think I will choose? The evidence I can see points to the fact that I can better trust the sturdy looking chair to hold me up. Likewise, the object of our faith must be capable and worthy of trust if we are going to put our faith in action. It is impossible to trust something (or someone) we do not know. Getting to know the object of our faith (God), directly impacts our ability to walk out our faith. How well we know Him determines how well we will be able to trust Him. Hebrews 11:1 is telling us that He is as trustworthy as something we can actually see—and when we know Him, we will trust Him.
Having a solid faith foundation starts with knowing who God is and what He is truly like. Sometimes our view of Him gets distorted by wrong teaching, dysfunctional parents or ignorance. We begin to get to know Him when we spend time with Him in prayer, reading the Bible (especially the Psalms) and exploring books and relationships with others who truly know Him. As we get to know Him, we find that He is most loving, kind, accepting and forgiving and not legalistic, impatient or wrathful. That’s easy to say and hear, but we have to know it for ourselves before we can trust Him as we would a sturdy chair.
Do you know God well enough to trust Him as you would a sturdy chair you can see? Do you know He wants to hold you in His lap as safely as you are in a sturdy chair?. Do you know how much He loves you?
In Part 2 we will look at some practical examples of how trustworthy He is.