So when I choose faith, does that mean I should have an end goal in mind and just KNOW (have faith) that God’s going to work “all things together for good” and come through for me?
I’m sorry, dear friend, but the answer that that question is NO. Fortunately, though, faith is so much deeper and richer than hope for all answered prayers our way! Oswald Chambers says, “Through these doorways (pain/trials/struggles) God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son.” Hebrews 11 is full of examples of people who lived “by faith” and there’s also a paragraph nestled in-between these heroic deeds that requires our attention.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Many of the great Patriarchs of the faith did just that – they lived by faith! Meaning, they didn’t always see the fruit of their labor. They didn’t feast upon the harvest of what seeds they’d planted. They didn’t all live a life full of bounty. They walked by faith. That faith being an object of their devotion (GOD) and not an earthly end goal. They lived to be in unbroken fellowship with God – Creator & Life Giver – and obeying the Word of His mouth.
Several years ago Adam and I became involved with a group of people who followed teachings associated with what’s called the “Word of Faith” movement. To our immature faith, their words stirred up feeling of hope that a wealthy future was our for the picking. The only catch was, we needed to be giving $X per week, per month, with joy because God only blesses a “cheerful giver”. Our attitudes should also always be like Christ, always joyful, humble and full of words of wisdom. They said those who live and give like this will be blessed with rewards from the Lord. Whatever earthly things we were striving for, whether a successful business, new car, bigger house, it was ours if we named it, claimed it with scripture and prayed diligently enough for it. Perfect! This sounds like a dream come true! I can have my cake and eat it too, as they say.
Several months went by, all the while implementing this lifestyle to the best of our ability. But guess what – instead of gaining ground on our dreams, we fell further behind. Instead of paying off credit cards our balance increased. WHY?! We pleaded with the Lord. Isn’t it a noble desire/goal to be debt-free? And after that have the funds to buy this car in cash? Isn’t that GOOD? It took a while longer that I care to admit for Adam and I to realize this teaching of “faith” did NOT and still DOES NOT line up with what scripture teaches. Yes, on the outside those verses quoted are valid, but on the inside, they are not being used in their entirety. That leads to very slippery ground by allowing our focus to be shifted from unity of the Spirit and Eternity to the little “g” God of ME, and the little “j” Jesus of idolatry.
Yes, we go to the Lord with our wants, our desires, even for that new car, bigger house to accommodate our growing family or paying off credit cards. We pour out our hurts, our broken relationships, the unjust decisions made or personal dealings gone awry. However, through this faith, we ask that the Lord produce in US the character He wishes to see as we endure this hardship. We pray by faith because we, in our flesh cannot do this work. It is a make-over of the Holy Spirit alone! We also must realize as our friends in Heb. 11 did, that the results of this matter – whether inconvenience or injustice or personal affliction, we may never see the end result we desire HERE. We may never enter through the doors of another house, hold the keys to a new car, or witness the transformation of a relationship. Longing for Heaven we can have faith in OUR relationship with our Heavenly Father and ultimate Provider. For what control do we really have of these external circumstances especially when other human beings are involved? Not much, if any! But what do we have control over? Yes, ME. My heart. My personal time with the Lord and what He is working out in me right now through these difficult circumstances. How He’s increasing my genuine faith and ebbing away all the superficial support beams until all that’s left is just me and Him.
So what are you praying for my friend? Don’t listen the catchy tune of “Name it , claim it…frame it, it’s yours” doctrine and so undermine genuine faith in the One True God who does answer prayer without formulas. But I encourage you instead to open out your hand and allow God to answer your prayer His way. May we seek to get on God’s page, not try to coax God to get our OUR page.
Grace and Peace to you through Christ Jesus our HOPE