Monday, October 25, 2010

Persistent Faith for the Hard Times

Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9.

In some ways, the Israelites had it easy! They saw and heard miraculous things not matched in our experience. Have you seen a pillar of fire or cloud following you each night and day, or water gushing out of impervious rock? Have we experienced a parting of the Jordan’s waters, or a siege and fall of Jericho in our lives?

Wow! With evidences of God like that in our history it would be easy to trust God wouldn’t it? Perhaps not. As a child, one of the inconsistencies I could not understand was the fickleness of the Israelites in the face of such great miracles. I was sure that if I had that sort of experience, I would have no difficulty trusting.

But as I grew older, I found that every adversity carried its own temptation not to believe; however much I had experienced God’s deliverance in the past. The resolution of past difficulties looked easy in retrospect and maybe it had nothing to do with God. Or perhaps this difficulty is my fault and so God will not answer. You can probably add your own excuses not to trust.

What we believe about past encounters with adversity will add or detract from our trust in God for the present. If God was present then, He will be with us now. Each occasion we trust God for the outcome builds faith for the next. Our difficulty arises from the ability to choose what to believe: whether everything happens by chance, or God is involved in our experience.

We may not have the spectacular experiences the Israelites had, but a lifetime of recognizing God acting on our behalf—in good times and bad—is an enduring legacy, not only for us, but also for our children and grandchildren. Their faith will gain that positive starting point as they embark on a lifetime of walking with God.

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