Forging Faith in the Fiery Places
“But Mommy, how can God help me?” She whimpered through tears as we dimmed the lights and tucked in the covers. “How can He help me? We can’t see Him, we can’t hear Him, and He isn’t here.”
Oh, do I relate to her pleas for relief in the dark moments of hard times. When you are walking through a process so heavy and hard that you simply cannot see through the fog. It feels impossible and impassable. Circumstances become like chains, holding you captive in the barren place of shadowed perspective.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1
Faith is one thing in the daylight when sight is clear and conditions manageable. But it is something completely different in the dark, lonely places of uncertainty. That kind of deep faith is unwavering. That faith is deeply rooted, beyond the shifting plates of life’s conditions.
I want that kind of faith; faith that holds a steady heart while groping through the dark. I just don’t want the trials. But the truth is – I’m not sure this kind of faith can be built or even found in the daylight. This kind of faith is forged in fire.
Can we ponder this a bit? Can we be brave and really dive in to the depths of our own reflections? When the rug is pulled out from under your feet and the world turns to quicksand, where do you go? When it doesn’t make any sense at all, what do you cling to?
Abel is the first Ancient mentioned in Hebrews 11, that infamous “hall of faith”. Not Adam, not Eve… Abel. Their second born. And even though his story in scripture is rather short, his face is the first that hangs on that wall. He brought an offering before the Lord, an offering of devotion. It was the first and very best produce of his herd. That was it. His act of faith was an act of devotion, surrendering over the vulnerability of his best work.
I wonder what that took, to sacrifice his favorite calf. To lay down his dream and most prized possession at the altar. Perhaps he was teased by Cain or maybe even his Mom cast a few words of doubt. Did he wonder if he’d ever have one like that again? Did he worry if the rest of his herd would be enough?
And yet, despite the cloudy outlook, no matter the crazy predictions this action triggered; he did it. He gave it up out of pure devotion to an unseen God.
And he was murdered for it. Not rewarded with a larger herd, or even a really juicy steak. He was murdered by his very own brother.
Had he known, do you think he would have done it anyway?
Unwavering faith is first a choice. A choice to lay bare before the Lord. Abel chose the Lord over his best work, his visible guarantee. And God still honors him for it millennia later. Before the world got complicated with a brother’s jealousy Abel made a choice regardless of outcomes. He valued the place of a Sovereign God over His expectations.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” Hebrews 11:1 MSG
No, my sweet daughter. We can’t see Him with our earthly eyes. But if you close your eyes you can see Him with your heart, and He is faithful. He is faithful beyond anything on the horizon.