Many are going through intense times of testing and difficulties or you know of someone that is. We gain strength and courage as we look back to ancient truths in order to keep our faith strong during changing times. When we see that others have gone through even harder things than what we are facing and their faith stayed strong then we know it’s possible to have faith that overcomes.
Contend for the faith.
Jude encouraged the church in Jude verse 3, “Contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.” Contend is a warfare word meaning to strive or vie in contest or rivalry or against difficulties. The Lord never intended for our faith to stay at the measure it was when we first were given faith. Jesus was always concerned with his followers when their faith was not growing. It has always been God’s intent that trials would pull us up to a new and greater measure of faith. Contending brings growth and passion for the things of the Lord. Faith should be counted more precious than gold. If our faith doesn’t cost us something, then it has little value.
While in Herrnhut, Germany in the summer of 2010, I visited the castle of Count von Zinzendorf. This man was called by God to provide a city of refuge to many that had fled their homelands to have religious freedom. My ancestors came from the Moravians which was a large part of this group. What set them apart was their prayer life of having organized twenty-four-hours-seven-days-a-week prayer which continued for over 120 years.
Count von Zinzendorf trained and sent this people forth to go into other nations as missionaries even though there was great persecution and hundreds were martyred. As they left their homes, most of them never returned. The love and devotion they had for the Lord caused their faith to be so great that their relationship with Him outweighed any fear. The results of their enduring faith changed the world. By the time of Zinzendorf’s death in 1760, it is said that this church had done more for world missions than all the other Protestant churches combined.
Seeing from heaven’s perspective puts a new light on how we will endure daily trials. The saints of old made it through intense sufferings so that we could know that enduring faith brings rewards that are of high value. “Jesus who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Jesus had to have heaven’s perception working in him to recognize and see the joy that had been set before him. What is being set before you to give you the strength and courage to advance? Heaven is saying something about your life and the Lord wants to use the trials to grow us and bring us to our place of destiny purpose. We are encouraged in 2 Cor. 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seem is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Having faith in the character of God
Faith brings results, but faith goes far deeper than what we see. Faith is about still believing even though we don’t understand when life is hard. Faith keeps us settled when the world is shaking. Faith draws us to the nature and character of God and into deeper intimacy with Him. Faith will cause us to advance even though we are going through brokenness. This is the kind of faith that these trials are meant to develop in us. In Lk 18:8 Jesus asked, “When the Son of man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
So often we look to have faith for something. How about changing that and having faith in something or someone? Faith is about the person of Christ. Faith is not about what I feel or think. Faith is a force of knowing that anything is possible in the midst of impossible situations. Faith is about who God is. Faith works by love so God is always the center of our faith. Faith in His goodness, in His faithfulness, in His longsuffering, His unfailing love, His compassion, and in His mercies that are new every morning. This is who He is.
Years ago Dan was fired from the church where we had raised our family. The reason given was we just did not fit. That was true, but we were betrayed with lies and friends turned from us. It was an incredibly tough time for each one in our family. We left in grief and pain trying to make sense of it all. That is what happens when you go through something you cannot understand. We certainly could not put our faith in anything around us. It was a new day to have faith and trust in God for our lives and for our children. We had to make a decision to keep moving and not lose our focus of who God had been for us. God brought us through with miracle after miracle and for that we are forever grateful. We gained a new understanding of how God never leaves us or forsakes us even when it looks like He had. God is faithful and whatever you are going through you must look to Him and not to people.
The saints of old could face uncertainty because their security and trust were found in God, not in circumstances. They were certain about God being their deliverer and King. This is how we will face life in these days ahead. There are things we may not like or understand, but we must contend for the faith and embrace Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith! As we do, we will see His majesty even through the midst of sorrow. When the enemy thinks he has us beat, we will rise and have new life. We won’t quit and we will shout Grace! again and again. For the faith that was once delivered to the saints will be seen again in the earth through you and me and our generations!