Have you ever trusted someone and been betrayed? Then you get past the hurt and place your trust with them again and they betray you all over again? Pretty soon, if that happens too many times, we draw certain conclusions about that person’s character. At some point, we lose our trust in them all together. We stop placing our faith in them.
Sometimes, we do something similar in our relationship with God. We pray to God for something. He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we’d like.
We pull back a little trust.
We question His character.
We lose a little faith.
Prayers continue. We don’t like the answers. Pretty soon, we start feeling like all is lost.
For today’s Scripture Challenge passage – the ancient Israelites were very much feeling as if all were lost.
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:8-10
The Israelites were not feeling very chosen at this point. They had been defeated by a conquering army. Their temple had been destroyed. They were being held captive by the Babylonians. Prayers certainly were not being answered the way they expected.
They were in a dark place.
Yet, in the midst of the darkness, God calls out to His people reminding them, “You are chosen. I made a promise to you. I’ve not forgotten you or my promise. I’m right here with you. No need to fear or worry.”
God is shining the light of His promise through the darkness. He is filling the dark spaces with the Spirit of reassurance. Do not fear.
Ultimately, this passage calls us to make a choice about faith. We can’t cherry pick faith. There’s no option to place our trust and hope with God on Tuesdays and skip the weekends. Faith has no office hours. It’s a 24/7/365 kind of thing.
All in or all out?
Seems like a pretty simple choice. The trouble starts when we try to make this choice through the lens of our human experience. This experience typically forces us to draw conclusions about character based upon a person’s behavior. Have you ever gotten this one wrong? I have certainly judged a book wrongly by its cover once or maybe twice.
If we could flip things around, our conclusions might be different about the person. Meaning – if we could know the absolute truth about a person’s character BEFORE we interact with them, then it would likely change how we would characterize a person’s actions. Judging a book would get a whole lot easier.
When it comes to God – too often we examine the relationship the way we might in any other relationship. We draw conclusions based on our perception of God’s “behavior” in our lives. We pray that God take away the cancer. God doesn’t take away the cancer. We conclude that God can’t be very good or that He must not care very much for us or both.
We have to flip the lens. People may be a mystery to us, but God has revealed himself over and over; time and time again. God is perfect in his love, mercy, justice, and grace (and so much more). We know God’s character BEFORE we interact with Him. Because God is perfect – we can trust him even when (especially when) his choices do not line up with our own.
Faith is the bold choice to trust a perfect God despite how we feel in any given circumstance. We can’t trust God in the light and then curse Him in the night.Tweet
God called to his people, Israel, through the dark days of Babylonian exile. Then and now – we, God’s people, find ourselves in dark places.
There’s an irony about dark places.
Our sight narrows; yet, becomes more focused. His light shines brighter. As outside noises become muffled, the inner cacophony of our fear blares. Yet, the echo of His promises and the reassurance of His presence cuts through the discord.
What dark place threatens you? Is it possible that somewhere stored in that cool, dark place are the seeds of an everlasting faith?
Dear Father, dark places can be so frightening. We can’t see through inky blackness. We need your Light to guide us. When boxed in the shadows of despairing circumstances, we can’t hear the voice of comfort. We need your Spirit to reassure us. With your guidance and reassurance, help us to make the bold choice to place our faith in You. When our faith waivers, because it will, help us to make that choice over and over and over again. This we pray through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!