There is a “fair weather” faith that is precious to all believers. When our confidence in God’s presence is reinforced by good things that happen, when His protection and His direction are easily recognized, the security of His bosom is such a joy!
But life isn’t always like that. Sometimes we are bewildered by God’s strange way of managing the universe. John the Baptist was a brave and loyal servant of God, and a key figure in His eternal plan. John was sent forth to prepare the way for Jesus. He was faithful to his commission. Then, having staked everything on Jesus, John found himself in prison. This situation eventually raised questions in John’s mind for which he found no satisfactory answers. So he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one we’ve been expecting, or shall we look for another?”
Most of us can identify with John in that kind of doubting. There are times when we think we can see God’s purpose for our lives quite clearly. So, we step out confidently, investing our faith. But when what we consider “harvest-time” comes, it doesn’t work out as we had anticipated. We commit ourselves to the “other cheek” philosophy, and our other cheek keeps getting smitten! We try “doing unto others,” but they never “do unto us.” We’re inspired by those “happy ending” stories preachers tell, but in our experience, it’s quite different. And it’s hard sometimes to imagine that God could really work some of our heartbreaks and reversals to our good.
It’s under such circumstances that we need to develop the faith of the farmer James spoke of who waits patiently for both “the first and second rain.” After all, if God’s actions were exactly as we expect, in perfect harmony with human logic, it wouldn’t require faith, would it?
It’s in circumstances which seem humanly hopeless, when our investment seems futile, when none of it makes sense, that we need to be reminded of Joseph, who maintained his integrity through 20 years of having no idea what God had in mind for him. We need to be reminded that it’s not when we understand that faith is called for, but when we don’t. It’s when our labors seem to be counting for nothing, when our backs are against the wall, when defeat seems inescapable, that we must believe that though His ways are beyond our finding out, there are untold thousands who can testify from personal experience that His “grace is sufficient;”that indeed, God does “work all things to the good of those who live, who are called according to His purpose.”
Such faith is valuable, not in the light, but in the darkness; not in the calm, but in the storm; not peace and happiness, but in conflict and fear.
From Guest Editorial V
By R. Dean Catlett
Minister of the Church of Christ in Bend, OR