We live in an incredibly noisy world. We’re bombarded from all sides by ideas, pressures, and cultural demands that vie for our time and energy. Especially in this information age where we have virtually endless venues for absorbing ideas and information ranging from fascinating to ludicrous.
We idolize information, touting knowledge as a neutral pedestal upon which human intellectual superiority is displayed for all to admire. Experts from varieties of lifestyles and scientific disciplines climb aboard solemnly to expound the realities of our world, infusing their delivery with the underlying insinuation that you ignore them at your own peril. Most of us, either out of habit or conviction, accept the wisdom passed down to us with awe and gratitude, tucking the newest bit of info away for future use, secure in our place as the masters of our universe.
So, what do we do when that information contradicts things of faith?
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:27
It’s hard to step back and realize that the pedestal of human intellect is built on shaky ground. As compelling as the scientific arguments are, the simple fact of the matter is that human wisdom is built on human fallibility – our biases, our experiences, our self-focused needs. The experts, while highly intelligent, are still subject to error, especially when it comes to the interpretation of data: an idea that certainly goes against the grain of everything the world says — and with good reason. The world, or rather the demonic prince thereof, has a vested interest in keeping us our eyes firmly planted on that which we can see, rather than exploring beyond where science and human wisdom can go.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1
Faith is not the ignorance of reality; it is the entrance into a reality that the world cannot begin to see.
Children see the world in ways that adults do not; just like children, we of faith allow God to alter our vision in order to see Him. I liken this to the 3-D pictures that were popular a while back. At first glimpse, it appears as a beautiful but incomprehensible mess . There is form and structure, but no focal point to give it purpose. But, when you take the time to alter the way your eyes focus, suddenly a figure leaps forth with depth and clarity. So long as your eyes are adjusted to see the 3-D image, the picture makes sense; once you lose focus, it’s back to a flat, confusingly psychedelic image.
When we engage in faith, our understanding is adjusted by God to see that there is more to this world than meets the eye. Yes, there is the reality of the physical world in which we live, but on its own it’s little more than a glorious mess, with beauty but without purpose. Once we suspend the belief that that’s all there can be, and look in faith to the Creator of the heavens, we see the purpose and direction in which it’s all headed. Faith gives the world in which we live depth and life.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ~ Ephesians 2:8
It is by faith that we are saved. Faith is the means by which even the prophets of old pleased God (Hebrews 11:2); nowhere in the Bible will you find God condemning anyone for having too much faith. But godly faith is not an empty hoping, like putting a wish under your pillow and really wanting it to come true.
Faith never forgets that we live in a real world with real problems. It knows that sometimes prayer will be answered with “No;” that, sometimes, good intentions will be rebuked for having been done in disobedience; and that a real God is not bound by our requests but rather works ALL things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.
Faith knows that trials will come, but that our God is greater than those trials and will not only bless us through them but will walk beside us every step of the way.
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience; that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. ~ Hebrews 10:35-36
Faith is not something we possess in and of ourselves; it is first, and foremost, a gift from God. It is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), a divine enabling to be close to God when our natural desire is to be as far away from Him as possible. Because it comes from God, faith can endure what we in our humanness cannot. In the ancient kingdom of Babylon, when Israelite captives Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were confronted with being burned alive for not worshiping the national idol, they declared:
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. ~ Daniel 3:17-18
They had absolute faith in God’s ability to defend them in their obedience; but even if He had chosen to let them die in the fire, that faith was enough to sustain them. They stood their ground, even before a furious King Nebuchadnezzar, even when the furnace was stoked to hot that it killed the guards who threw them in — and their faith was rewarded with a once-in-history chance to walk with the Son of God in the flames.
In our humanness, it’s easy to be discouraged by the world, to lose focus, to stare in dismay at the grand idol of intellect on its awesome pedestal and feel helpless. But we serve a greater God, who does not stand imperiously upon the heights staring down at the feeble unwashed masses; He came down and walked among us, He knew our struggles and our pain, He took our burdens to the cross and nailed them there with His own blood. He does not disdain the weak of understanding, but rather gives us eyes to understand what intellect can never discover.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. ~ Mark 19: 23-24
Contributed by Joelle Heilemann