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Faith and obedience

In a commonplace way, faith underlines how everyone lives. We drink water, trusting that it has been safely processed. We trust that the food we purchase at the supermarket or eat at a restaurant is uncontaminated. We will even submit to a doctor and his surgical scalpel, even though we don’t have any expertise in medical procedures. Once the surgery has been finished, we take the medicine prescribed to us, without really knowing how or what it does for our system.

Every day, we exercise an innate faith in someone or something. Faith comes naturally.

If I have a headache, I’ll take Tylenol and trust it will relieve the pain. When we get into a car, we trust that the seatbelts are well built and bolted correctly without even checking them. We might not understand the mechanics, but we trust that the belt will do what it has been designed to do. This is called “natural faith.”

In John 3:6-7, we can begin to get a glimpse of what spiritual faith is.

In order to understand what spiritual faith is, you must be willing to accept basic ideas and act on things you don’t understand. Spiritual trust is a result of spiritual birth (Eph. 3:20-21).

The most basic idea, or spiritual pillar, we must understand is to trust in God. This attitude can only grow if we get to know God better. This is shown by many of the Bible’s great men.

When David wrote Psalm 18, he wasn’t singing this song as a shepherd boy. At this point in his life, David had been long pursued and harassed by foes who sought his life, but he finally felt he was triumphant against his enemies and that he and his kingdom were safe. In thankfulness, he pours out the utterances of a grateful heart for God’s merciful and mighty interposition (2 Sam. 22).

When he was writing Lamentations, Jeremiah the prophet remembered how good God had been in the past. In Lamentations 3:21-26, each verse begins with the Hebrew translation for “good.”

From this, we first see the fundamental idea that Yahweh Himself is good. If Yahweh is good to all, then He is especially good to those who are facing adversity but wait in confidence upon His mercy.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lam. 3:21-26)

Habakkuk, another prophet of God, is the perfect example of spiritual faith being challenged. Habakkuk was in a situation similar to what Amos and Micah faced with the children of Israel: justice and faithfulness had basically disappeared from Judah and wickedness and violence went unchecked.

The opening of Habakkuk’s prophecy reveals his frustration and lack of understanding of why God did not intervene in Judah’s affairs and set things right: “…O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” (Hab. 1:1-3)

God responds, “I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.” (Hab. 1:5-11)

Habakkuk’s dilemma was that he could neither understand nor solve this problem with human wisdom, as much as he tried. When Habakkuk does not understand God’s plan, he turns to his theology.

“Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” (Hab. 1:12)

When he cannot understand God plan, Habakkuk reaches to what he does know about God. Habakkuk knew that God is holy and doesn’t make mistakes.

To this, God responds: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:3-4)

When he hears this response, Habakkuk realizes that even when our faith is on the verge of collapsing, God will take us to greater heights (Hab. 3:17-19). Even if the routine, ordinary, dependable parts of daily life quit functioning and the whole world is turned upside down and backwards, Habakkuk would still rejoice in God and keep trusting him.

This is how we should live. Even though we don’t understand the circumstances in which God has put us, we should try to remember who God is and His great work.

 

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