We just wrapped up studying Hebrews 11 in the Sister Study, and every month we gather in the last week to chat about what we loved, what challenges us, and what we learned about God.
This one was hard for me. I love organization and thinking through my answers in a clean and organized manner. But this month is was messy. What I loved and what challenged me is also what I learned about God. Very rarely are they ever the same thing. When the same thing that you love is the same thing that challenges you -- tension sits there. I love learning about God's character, but I don't always understand Him.
Hebrews 11 is story after story of heroes of faith (hence the title the of this study). "By faith" they endured and miracles occurred. "By faith" they got to see God's promises unfold. "By faith" they grew in their very personal relationship with Christ. I found myself in this tension where I believed that "by faith" miraculous things were possible, but I've also lived the opposite. Faith doesn't set us up for a miracle. Faith doesn't set us up for a YES from God in our here and now.
But when I read the stories of these people who "by faith" God moved mountains for them, I am tempted with a shallow hope that maybe, If I have faith in this situation, I will get my yes.
That the child will be healthy. That illness will disappear. That promotion will come. That marriage will heal. That abuser will apologize. That hardship will lighten up. That family will get their yes.
If I just have enough faith.
The problem with that is this... God's good and perfect and loving plan is not determined by our faith. It solely relies on His goodness. This is not a works based operation, "If you just had more faith maybe your marriage wouldn't be over." No. Stop that.
The same God who says yes also says no, for the good of those that love Him.
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The same God who says no also says yes, for the good of those that love Him.
Sometimes we feel as though we cannot live with the NO, but we also can’t live in Christ without it. While I know that to be true, I don't understand the "no" all of the time. I've been on both sides of the fence. I've been on the faith side where I believed God would deliver and He did. I've also pleaded and petitioned Him to take away the pain, and he didn't. But hope is not meant to be woven into our circumstances (which is what we do so often on this earth), it's meant to be woven into the tapestry of Christ in who He is and what He’s done.
"And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Hebrews 11:39-40
If you need permission here it is. It’s ok to have faith and question God. The two are not mutually exclusive. But what we would be cheating our selves of is not laying that at the feet of Jesus. If He can conquer death, he can handle your big, messy questions. Just try Him.