I had a dream the other night worth sharing as we start a new year…
There was a young forty year old man sitting in a doctor’s office receiving news that he had terminal cancer and was going to die very soon. His family wasn’t present, but I could almost see them like an audience in the background reacting to the news. They were notably upset, angry even. They were angry at the waste of such a young life succumbing to an evil disease. They were outright angry at God and questioned how a loving God could allow such a thing.
Then I saw the man driving home after his appointment. He was driving across a wide open highway when he looked out and saw a small tornado blowing across the prairie field. He saw a small boy about three years old crouched in the field terrified of the approaching storm. Immediately the man jumps out of his truck and runs towards the boy. He scoops him up just as the tornado picks them up and throws them both across the field while the forty year old man shields the young boy. They land on the ground together, the young boy still in the arms of the young man. The young man had been pelted by debris and died on impact breaking the fall for the young lad saving the child’s life at the cost of his own. Again, I could see his family and friends like an audience. This time they sung praises. They called the young man a guardian angel, a hero. By his heroic act they justified his death as worthy and praised God for making him a good man who would be honoured by his death.
I woke up right away aware that God was trying to get my attention. Having been to more funerals than I care to count, I’ve noticed that inevitably at funerals of younger people you could hear statements such as “what a tragedy”, and “taken too soon”. With older people who had lived a “long good life”, there were comments of celebration. Somehow we could justify death if we perceived it to be at a reasonable phase of life, or if it was death for what we justified as a good reason, such a in my dream in the case of the heroic death. With each perception, our idea of who God was was altered as well. He was either a loving, compassionate God who allowed the person longevity, or he was weak and pathetic stepping back while evil reigned and won a battle.
As I thought about this I realized that we do this beyond just death. God becomes fluid in his personality, actions, and character. If we face enough events where what happened appears to be unjustifiable, we write off God altogether because it challenges our perception of who he is.
This is where faith steps in…
Faith is what kicks in when what we see no longer seems rational, justifiable, or fair. When what we see and hear has no logic, and what we feel brings deep pangs of hurt Faith steps up and says “Trust Him”! If it’s your health, he’s got it. If your work he’s got it. If it’s you’re government, he’s got it. If it’s unanswered prayers, he’s moving mountains where you can’t see yet. Whatever it is, if He’s capable of making everything from nothing he’s certain to make whatever injustice you’ve set eyes on into something beautiful for his glory. Yes, we have free will, yes we can make choices that cause us separation from him. But by his providence and sovereignty and kingship he knows when to step in and breathe life on the lifeless in a way that makes us see through his eternally-focused eyes. The enemy doesn’t win. Period. Like a predictable Hollywood movie we can sit back and know the end even when it looks like the bad side just scored a major win. Somehow watching from the safety of our couch we know the ending, and yet when we are in the midst of our circumstances and trials the end seems rather dismal.
We wage war in the face of uncertainty. Not with our voices and weapons, but from our knees before anything else. A whisper to God changes more than a million shouts from the enemy. By our quiet whispers we bind and loose things in ways we cannot see. (see Matthew 18:18) We have to have faith that in the realm where angels and demons fight battles that our side is winning, even when it doesn’t seem like it on earth. Don’t give in to the temptation to be another shouting voice above the chaos in front of you. Resist the urge to think that God gave up, or turned his back, or is too weak to “fix” the situation. Resist the urge to be angry, fearful, hurt, envious, to give up, or give in, to stay awake in worry, or to grow anxious. God gave you none of those (see 1 Tim 1:7). He did you hope, love, and FAITH. And when you’re anchored in faith you stand in spite the waves that crash into your foundation. You become a beacon of light in the storm and you did nothing but stand in faith knowing Your God is bigger, you’re God is working in a world we cannot yet see.
When we have faith in God, we can persevere through whatever the circumstance, even when it looks like Evil has the upper hand.
When we have faith our perception of God doesn’t change with each trial we face. He is a consistent God! (see Malachi 3:6)
When we have faith our minds stay focused on God’s sovereignty knowing he has the ultimate final word on EVERYTHING, even when it may not look like it right now.
If you’re in need of some inspiration of people who chose to have faith in God’s plan instead of believing Evil was gaining the upper hand check out Hebrews 11. Here’s verse one to leave you with…
Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)