“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1.
Faith, by very definition, means that we are trusting in God during a trial of uncertain outcome.
Abraham could see no clear way that his barren, ninety year-old wife could bear him a son, yet this same chapter says he “considered him faithful who had made the promise.” Faith, then, depends on how well we trust solely in God’s solid-rock character that does not change despite our circumstance. Talk about ‘faith under trial’–it is only under trial that we know if we have true faith.
This came home to me in 2012 when my wife, never a smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now into our sixth year of various chemotherapy and radiation treatments, even a four-hour surgery last May to remove an egg-sized brain tumor, my faith as a husband and caregiver, elder and evangelist, in particular is still under trial.
If I get a cold, I am reasonably assured that if I take a regimen of medicines over a short window of time, I will be better soon. Colds come and go, often with no serious life-altering effects. It is a very low-level of faith indeed (even if at the time I feel like I might die) to believe that I will eventually get well. But cancer? We have been living with excruciating uncertainty for six years! Will she live or die? Is today a go-to-work or lie-on-the-couch day? Will she feel too queasy to eat supper tonight or is there a specific craving that I have to run to the store to find?
That kind of trust over that period of time takes incredible faith. “God’s got this–He always has,” has become our mantra that reminds us, sometimes daily, that He is the only One who has ever been in control anyway.
It was always during the difficult times that Jesus would rebuke his followers for lack of faith. It is not easy to be a Christian. When the squall comes up on our Sea of Galilee, we believe God to be asleep and so not in control. We may even accuse Him of not caring. But, our lack of faith is showing.
After Jesus’ hard teaching about His body being real food and His blood real drink in John 6, many “turned back and no longer followed him.” When Jesus asked the Twelve if they too would leave, Peter answered with words that should encourage all to find faith under trial, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
There’s no one else. Our lives depend on us having faith under trial.