“If you’re goin’ through hell, keep on going.
Don’t slow down, if you’re scared don’t show it.
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”
Rodney Atkins offered this advice in his country western song. There is a universal truth to his lyrics. Some of the strongest people we know also have had the hardest lives. People who have endured terminal illness, amputations from war, or the loss of a child. No one wants to go through turmoil. We have this idea of how we want our lives to go: graduate high school, go to college, get a job, get married, have 2.3 kids.
The reality is most people’s lives will not look like this. Our lives will follow a unique trajectory and none of us will leave here alive. If we say we believe in God how can we justify all of our suffering? I would argue that it is through tragedy that we see humanity. Historically through times of war or natural disaster we band together and help one another.
Faith is the result of trusting that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. Faith is believing in what we cannot see. Faith is built by our belief, our works in him, and our relationship with him.
Our faith comes from our belief and trust in God. We see him manifest as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We can think of our faith in God as similar to gravity. We can’t touch it, see it, smell it, or really notice it (unless you’re on a ride at an amusement park) but we know it’s there. Undeniably, we know it’s there.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5 ESV
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:1-5 ESV
In this verse God is essentially telling us to not just be happy in good times but to rejoice in both good times and bad. But why would a God who loves us ever want to harm us? I don’t know but have you ever heard the story of Job? This passage is clear we go through bad things to build our character and fulfill God’s plan for our lives.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
James 2:14-17 ESV
These verses seem to contradict each other. On one hand salvation is a free gift from God. The next passage says faith without works is dead. So which is it? Both.
Think about it like going to college on scholarship, the eduction is free but you’re only going to get out of it what you put in. The experience you have comes from being involved. You figure out where you fit in and find a sense of community where you can grow and develop into who you are going to be.
Works without relationship is self serving vanity. Mathew 25 tells the story of the sheep and goats. In the end times people will say they did things in God’s name but God will say he never knew them.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 ESV
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
God wants us to walk with him. God wants to be in the center of our families. He wants to guide us, and comfort us, and watch us grow. Faith is built by our belief, our works, and our relationship with Him. Remember, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13 ESV)