FAITH: We do not face adversity alone
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5 ESV
It is important to understand the words we use to articulate the beliefs and actions of Christianity. There are some differing opinions, throughs, and perspectives among different branches of the universal church, but there are some key words and concepts all of us agree on as part of necessity. Faith is one of those words and concepts, and as we see in the New Testament, is a true necessity for one to follow Christ.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Here we have an actual definition from scripture of what exactly faith means. The key words in this passage are assurance and conviction. The only way we can come to God, and as Paul tells us the only way we are justified in the eyes of God, is through faith. For many people, faith is an unsatisfactory requirement for having a relationship with the living God through His Son, Jesus.
The reason, I assume, is human culture has convinced itself there is no assurance when it comes to the spiritual life, well at least when it comes to the Christian spiritual life. This connects to conviction as well. Because so many people live their lives clouded by the darkness of sin, conviction has very little ability to convince people of the truth of God and the reliability of believing in Him. Many people do not want to believe in God, to have faith in Him, because they want to live their life their way, in their power, in their control. To have faith, which Paul says give us peace with God through Jesus Christ, requires too much for many in the part of personal surrender.
Faith is the essential response of a person to the gracious gift of salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation of the Christian life and is required for engaging in the journey of grace and living with hope. As well, it is essential for an active prayer life and the ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit in the life of one who seeks Him daily. Faith also is imperative when it comes to dealing with the hardships of life.
Throughout my time in ministry, I have traversed many hardships with folks in my congregations. These difficult times have included divorce, disease, and death, but these events have also comprised many miracles, healings, and great amounts of hope! There is a common testimony of many as they faced the realities of life: “I could not have made it through this time without faith in God!”
Maybe you have heard someone say this or even proclaimed it yourself. There is great victory in knowing we do not face adversity and trials alone. The very one who created us, redeemed us, and called us is with us every moment of our life, even when we struggle to have faith that He is. Our faith also helps to put some purpose and meaning in our sufferings. Paul tells us, in faith, suffering leads us to living with an assurance and conviction of hope. A hope which will not shame us, not disappoint us, not let us down, because this hope is the active love of God abiding in the depts of our souls.
As you face the days ahead, may your faith in God grow more and more as your conviction leads to the assurance He is in control and has all things worked out for the purpose of His glory! You are Valued and Loved! Pastor Brad
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.