Thursday, January 14, 2016

PATIENCE, ENDURANCE, AND THE NATURE OF FAITH





Faith often tells us to wait, to endure without seeing the prayed-for results. Abraham had to wait for 25 years to receive the promised son, Isaac. Although he had been commended for his faith (Rom. 4), he often despaired and crashed. After several years of residence in the Promised Land, he despaired of having a son and made his servant, Eliezar, his heir. However, God renewed His promise to Abraham that he would have a son.

Although he believed God (Gen. 15:6), he again despaired and jumped on his wife's suggestion to sleep with her Servant girl, Hagar, to have their son by her. 

Once again, God had to reaffirm His promise of a son to Abraham. However, at this time, Abraham was 99 and his wife no longer had her period. Therefore, he laughed in disbelief (Gen. 17).

However, the next year, both Abraham and his wife Sarah were able to laugh in joy at the birth of their Isaac, meaning "laughter."

We too are made to endure discouragements that place our faith at the breaking point. We, therefore, clutch at our "Eliezars" and sleep with our "Hagars," anything to fill the aching void. We pursue our goals by placing our hope in all the wrong things - secular therapy, unbiblical lifestyles, and mindfulness meditation. 

However, life's discouragements are all part of our Lord's program:

·       “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Our Lord is always in the process of refining our faith so that our hope will be invested in Him alone. Moses became so discouraged with God. He had risked everything for the sake of liberating his people, Israel, and lost it all. He fled to Midian where he became a lowly shepherd. He was so discouraged with God that, when God encountered him in the midst of the burning bush 40 years later and instructed him to return to Egypt to perform the very task that had been in his heart, Moses refused God.

However, God has a blessed purpose for what He makes us endure. During these painful 40 years, God had made Moses into the humblest of men (Num. 12:3), so humble that he understood God beyond what others understood (Num. 12:8). 

We too need to understand the ways of God, lest we despair and lose hope. However, even when we do, our God remains faithful. He restored Abraham, Moses, and even the most righteous Job, who had brought many ignorant indictments against God in the midst of his suffering. However, God humbled him and then restored him.

We too will be humbled through the trials we must endure. However, this is only preparation for something far greater:

·       “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Therefore, let us brace ourselves for what might be a long wait!

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