Saturday, January 9, 2016

Faith and Challenge in the New Year

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”—Mark 4.40

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”—John 11.40

Two different episodes but the same challenge—“where is your faith?”  The first instance comes from the time when the disciples were fearful of a massive storm.  They awaken Jesus and he challenges them as to their faith.  The second passage comes from the narrative about the death of Lazarus.  Martha is distressed and is troubled by Jesus’ desire to have the tomb opened up.  He, again, challenges her to faith—to trust in him.

I can’t help but think of these passages as we approach a new year.  We don’t know what is ahead of us as individuals, families, or as a church.  We can guess and even plan on certain patterns of normalcy but God is always willing to bring challenges to us.  He will “rock the boat” and do the unexpected.  We will be afraid and even weep.  Through it all Jesus is still challenging us to a deeper faith—a deeper trust—in him. 

The enemy of our faith will come in to tempt us with thoughts that God is not good and that our fearful and painful circumstances are evidence of that.  Jesus, on the other hand, wants us to see him in his power and life-giving glory and to trust in the midst of the painful circumstances.  Jesus doesn’t promise us ease of life—“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14.22).  He has promised us that he would be with us—“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13.5). 

So as we begin the New Year take time to reflect on the goodness of God to you.  Think of the great and precious promises given to you in Christ Jesus.  Remember and consider how God has been faithful this past year.  We are ever prone to forget the many kindnesses of God.  God will take us all down various paths of the unexpected.  Through it all know that our Father is seeking to develop our trust in him.  He is trustworthy—have faith in his goodness revealed in Jesus Christ!