Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
People of faith know that there is a world and a reality that is outside of what we can comprehend. We know that there is a divine power that is actually in control.
When we struggle with addiction, it is this belief of this force outside of ourselves that allows us to surrender what we cannot do on our own. When we are sick, our children are in the hospital, or we are unsure of the outcome of a situation, and we know that we can’t control it, it is faith that helps get us through.
Some of the people I know who have the deepest faith are people who have had the greatest struggle and may continually stumble.
Stories of people with strong faith will not come without some form of struggle. Sometimes this struggle comes because we believe God will come through, but as we walk forward by faith… we misstep. The reality of what we are trying to trust is unseen and we are doing the best that we can to live by faith.
I believe that we often times have a view of living by faith that is unattainable, unrealistic, lacking in understanding of grace, and not even what the Bible teaches about people of faith. People of faith in the Bible had struggled, they made poor choices (sometimes with the right intentions), and God was still faithful in His plan that they didn’t always see.
Hebrews 11 lays out what we call the “hall of fame of faith”. We see a blip about Abraham and Sarah.
11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
The writer of Hebrews finds that this moment of Abraham and Sarah having descendants “as numerous as the stars” important, within the grand scheme of people with faith listed. This promise and how it plays out is found in Genesis 15-17.
5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Just like many of us who live by faith make poor choices (sometimes out of good intentions), I believe that Abraham slept with Hagar, not because he was lacking in faith. I believe it was because he believed God’s promise of decedents, but Sarah and he didn’t know how it was going to happen.
2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
I believe that sleeping with Hagar was the evidence of the confidence of what they hoped for, but how God was going to do it wasn’t seen until later. Sarah was unable to have children at this moment, and God didn’t say that it would be through her until after Hagar had her son with Abraham (chapter 17).
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her”… .
..18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael (son of Hagar who he slept with) might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Abraham believed God would give him decedents but acted before he understood that God would do it through the miracle of Sarah.
How often do we have faith, but move forward poorly, because we don’t see what God sees? It happens all of the time! It isn’t because we don’t have faith!
There have been moments in my life where I know that God is moving me forward, but how and where is not clear. I have misstepped and made poor choices in my attempt to, by faith, do the best I can to act in faith.
I believe that when we understand this reality, we can give grace to ourselves, we can give grace to others, and we can realize that living by faith doesn’t always mean that we make the “right” choices.