God’s goal for every believer is to increase the strength of our faith, and to conform our character to God’s own character.
That is not always your goal, or mine.
I think often enough we would just like to have a nice smooth life. And it is easy to have good character when things go smoothly.
But easiness does not build up faith.
We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith – faith brings us into a right relationship with God and gives [God God’s ] opportunity to work.Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Three of the four components of faith are: Content, Consent, and Commitment. Here is the fourth element to faith:
- Continued Active Reliance: Faith is in the doing, not in the having. You and I cannot wait for faith to be in place before we act. We can only have faith if we actually use it.
Faith grows strong
- By using it again and again. There are countless situations, large and small, where—if we are willing to admit it—we are not able to control outcomes.
We, in ourselves, are not equal to the task. We do not have the resources, both inner and outer, to bridge the gap between need and supply. When we trust God to bridge the gap, be the supply, settle the outcome, and determine to be content with what God does, we are exercising faith.
- By consciously viewing circumstances through the framework of God’s love, power, goodness, purposes, and sovereignty.
All data is neutral until it is interpreted. How you and I interpret events will determine how we respond, what we will think and feel in the moment, and how we will process what we’ve learned, gained, or lost when all is said and done.
- By acting upon the belief God has already made us able to do the right thing, and say the right thing, in every situation.
Think of how Jesus tested the faith of his disciples when he was going to feed thousands of people with one small meal. When our faith is tested by God, it is to reveal what God has already worked deep within us by the power of God’s Spirt, and the wisdom of God’s word, and to cooperate with what God is going to do through us.
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and [God] will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing [God] will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)
Then, when God provides the way out, by faith we take it. It is not really faith unless we are moved into action.
Into what situation has Jesus sent you that requires all your strength to endure?
Well, when evening came, his disciples—who had gone down upon the sea [and] entered into a boat—started across the sea into Capernaum. Yet it had already become dark, and not only had Jesus not yet come to them, but a mighty wind that blew stirred up the sea.John 6:16-18
The disciples had been expecting Jesus for a while, so had been trying to hug the shoreline, keeping in view the general area where Jesus had gone up the mountain. But finally, they had to put out to cross the lake, just in time to hit the storm. There was nothing they could do but keep rowing, keeping their boat pointed towards the waves so they would not capsize.
It had already been an incredibly long, hard day. They had not rested, but at least they had eaten, and it seems, that was just enough to keep them going.
Mark’s gospel says their hearts were hardened concerning the miracle of feeding the five thousand. What was it they still did not understand?
What were they thinking about as they struggled to get through that storm?
Well, what do you and I think about when we are in the middle of life’s storms?
For the ancient Hebrew, the sea represented raw, elemental, primal power, and they had a deep respect for it. When you read through Exodus, you see God revealing almighty power, again and again, over water—God
- turned it to blood.
- caused it to rain like hail from the sky.
- parted the Red Sea for God’s people,
- and caused it to crash down on Pharaoh’s army, killing them all.
- changed bitter water to sweet.
- caused water to spring up from a rock in the wilderness.
- and in the Psalms, again and again, God is described as riding on the waves, and calming the storms.
As Judean fishermen, Jesus’ disciples had a deep and abiding respect for water.
Thus, straining hard at their oars, [what amounts to three or four miles], they beheld Jesus walking upon the sea and being near the boat, and they were seized with terror-and-alarm.
But he said to them, “I AM. Do not be terrified.”Jesus, in John 6:19-20
At the right moment, when they were frantically rowing, Jesus came out to them in the most unexpected way, terrifying the disciples.
The image of walking on the water is a symbol of divine triumph over all of creation.
Jesus portrays himself as the king who walks on his creation. He is the majestic sovereign who sits upon the clouds and walks upon the waters. When he spoke, Jesus’ voice carried through even the turbulence and clamor of the storm. Literally, Jesus’ words were “I AM,” YHWH’s holy and powerful name.
Are you in a situation right now where you really feel like you cannot win? There is no good solution. You are up against a wall, and besides that, you are tired, you are depleted. You keep plugging away, but this situation is really taking its toll on you.
- Maybe you feel like you have been giving and giving and giving, and are wondering when there will be any time for you to rest?
- Maybe you are in a situation that is pretty heavy, but you are making it. Just barely, but you are hanging in there, and you really do not want anybody to come in and help you because you do not want to owe anybody any favors.
- Or if they came in to help, they would see your mess, you would not want that.
- “No, no, I’m fine.” “I can handle it.” “I don’t like to owe people favors.”
So often you and I think that nobody—but nobody—has been in a bad situation like this one that I am in right now. No one has had to endure suffering this intense or had to buck up under a weight this heavy.
But remember what Paul wrote to the beleaguered believers in Corinth: There is no storm that you and I are going to encounter in this life that is so uncommon, that nobody has ever faced it before.
In what unexpected way do you think Jesus might be waiting for you to notice him, to recognize him and invite him into your boat? Is it someone who has offered help? Is it a gift that seems too large to accept? Is it a chance to let someone in on what’s going on with you?
Jesus uses crises to reveal his availability and power to save
Though Jesus seems distant at times, he never really is distant. He can come to you and me in our need. He is not restricted by circumstances or distance. Often life is like a storm. Things can be disturbing and frightening in life, and there is nothing wrong with being afraid. The comfort is in knowing that in the storms of life, the One who can do something about it knows how you and I feel, and when Jesus is with us we will safely reach the shore.
In what circumstance do you need to stop being self-sufficient, and let Jesus into your boat? Jesus calmed the storm in his disciples’ hearts first, and then they received him into their boat. Immediately the boat arrived at their destination.
Then they were wanting to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was upon the land to which they were going.John 6:21
Jesus Walks on the Water | The LUMO Project | http://www.freebibleimages.org