I look back on all the days where I have struggled with faith — a future I dreamed of being filled with love, joy, and happiness. I always felt a great divide between the happiness I sought and the silent bondage I found myself in. I always had a fear that one day I would simply fall into that dark chasm that was my shadow. During those times where I questioned the most, I hoped for many things; but most of all I hoped for something far more than I thought I would ever get — deliverance. I believe that faith and hope can go hand-in-hand. Can you have one without the other? Lamentations 3: 22-24 tells us that “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”
Faith. Faith? A barely-there sort of faith? Or the type of faith that can move mountains? We all have faith in something. Is our faith in the One who gives us hope for the future, or is our faith tied to this world that has nothing to offer us at all, least of all hope?
a cry of deliverance
In the days of Moses, when God’s people, the Israelites, were trapped in slavery to the Egyptians who cruelly abused them, they cried out to God for deliverance in hope that one day He would free them from their bondage. Hope. They hoped in faith that He would deliver them. And He would, but in His timing, not theirs. In a situation such as the one that the Israelites found themselves in, you either continue to hold on to your faith or you begin to lose your grip on faith — the glue that binds you to the One who is faithful.
The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. A great many years to be shackled, abused, slandered, shunned, and sometimes killed, for no other reason than being a race of people others loved to hate. Can you see it in your mind? Close your eyes and imagine yourself an Israelite slave. Think of how dry the weather is in the desert. Hot. Oh, so hot! You are hungry, starving, stomach rumbling. Tired. Slumping. Dejected. Hurting. The burns and scars on your back are not only from the sun but from the whips that were used to flail the skin from your body. Yet your eyes are still filled with hope — your soul filled with faith, even if it is just a little faith. You look to the horizon, your eyes roaming back and forth, looking for someone who would free you and your people. Then, one whisper after another, one voice after another, what you and the other enslaved Israelites all have dreamed of for more years than any of you can remember becomes a reality — God has sent an emissary to Egypt, to your people’s land of bondage. God has sent someone to bring freedom to His children, the ones whom He loves. Faith leaps in your heart. [hide_from level=”30Member, PremiumMember”] Want to see the full article? Login or Sign Up[/hide_from] [show_to level=”30Member, PremiumMember”]
led through the desert
Moses, hand-picked by God in His show of faithfulness to His people, was himself being led on the path set before him. See, Moses was only the human guide out of Egypt. Another Person led them. “…The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light…” (Exodus 13:21). One cloud before them, another cloud behind them, each led by the LORD Almighty Himself. God did not leave them. God led them. Out of slavery. Out of the cruelty of tyranny.
Pharaoh, remember him? The one who, through great coercion, granted God’s people their freedom. Well, he changed his mind. He decided to gather his army and pursue his former slaves. After all, who would do all the dirty work that the spoiled Egyptians did not want to do? With their horses and chariots (by the way, God’s people were traveling on foot), they raced until they were close to catching up with the Israelites. When God’s people realized that Pharaoh’s army was close behind them, they were faithful and believed that God, who freed them the first time, would protect them this time. Wrong! Instead of trusting God, the One who set them free from years of servitude, they started whining to God about why He would rescue them from one death sentence only to lead them into another death sentence. Have you ever felt like the Israelites? Have you ever felt as if you escaped one searing fire only to find yourself about to fall into another wall of fire? Their faith wavered and in that moment they gave in to fear and chose not to believe. Where did their faith go?
may your faith prevail
Faith is easy to claim when everything is going great. What happens to your faith when things aren’t going so great? Does it stay strong or does it weaken, almost disappearing, as the Israelites’ did at the first sign of trouble? In 1 Peter 1: 6-7, we are told that “…though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We will face trials. Sometimes, we will face armies of trials, not that we lose faith, but that we gain more faith so that “…the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:5). We go through many trials, sometimes periods of bondage, not to suffer without cause, but that we will grow in our faith and become devoted in our commitment to God. Not that we receive the glory for surviving the trials, but that He will receive the glory for delivering us through the trials.
God did deliver His people from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army… again. The Israelites witnessed many signs of God’s faithfulness that day and every day that passed after that. God proved Himself faithful. Did His children prove their own faithfulness? How great was their faithfulness? Like many of God’s children today, their faith fluctuated. When everything was going according to their great expectations, their faith was strong. As soon as the wind blew in a storm (not physically, well, sometimes physically), their faith wavered. It weakened.
We, as God’s children, are called to be faithful as He is faithful, in all things. Not only when life gives us what we want. Not only when we get that fancy new home. Not only when our children are kept safe and sound. Not only when fatal diseases pass us by. No. We are called to be faithful, even in the broken times of our lives. Yet, our LORD, our glorious LORD, even “…if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
be of good courage
Will we be called faithless while staring into the flames of the fire that threatens to consume us by giving up on God, or will we be called faithful for withstanding the searing hot licks of the flames by believing that God will deliver us? I beg of you, stay strong. Be encouraged. Some of us have faced fires. Some of us have been in the fires and have scars to prove it. If we can make it through the fires, so can you. Don’t stop believing. Do not let go of your faith. Hang on to it with the tightest grip you can muster. When those fires come, your faith can repel the hottest flames. You can come away from the fire, scars and all, with resounding proof that God is with you always — even in the midst of the firestorm. Jesus, God’s Son, went through trials as we did, yet He believed and had faith in God the Father to the point of death. Jesus loves us as God loves us. One day, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). As Jesus walked in faith while on this earth, may we all learn to walk by and in faith. [/show_to]