Let’s face it, if life was hard before 2020, it became harder in 2020 and we are not even out of the woods yet in 2021. One thing I love about the Bible is that it is not just a Book of instructions and commands, it is also a story of God’s love for man woven through the lives of men and women who who lived for God and taught us what it means to experience God’s faithfulness even in the midst of trouble and uncertainty. No doubt we live in uncertain times. The impact of COVID on the economy of nations as well as families and individuals will be felt for years to come. It is important that we in times like this, we keep the faith.
In order to understand what it means to keep the faith, we need to understand what faith is in the Christian context. The scripture gives us the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; the evidence of things we cannot see”. In verse 2, it goes on to say that, “Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”
Faith is not just a hope that things will be better tomorrow or we will get that job or pass that exam. We all hope for things whether we are believe in God or not. Hoping for an outcome that will favour us is part of what God built into every one of us. We know however that not everything we hope for turns out as we expect, so relying on hope alone is futile.
Faith however is reliant on the person of God rather than wishfully thinking that something will happen as we expect. It is based our understanding of who God is and what He is capable of. Those who earned a good reputation for their faith had something in common, they put their trust in God whether what they expected happened or not.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (You will find that story in Daniel 6) were faced with the most gruesome death ever - being cast into a flame of fire so hot that those who threw them in actually died in the process of doing so. I honestly do not think these three men were absolutely certain they would not die in the fire but they knew God had the ability to rescue them. They were however willing to die even if God didn’t rescue them because their trust in Him was absolute. God showed up for them and in a fantastic way so much so that Nebuchadnezzar himself couldn’t believe his eyes, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)
Another very important aspect of faith is how it is activated. We read in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (NKJV) “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” (NLT) One of those mentioned in Hebrews 11 was Joseph. In verse 22, we read, “It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.” . This wasn’t wishful thinking on Joseph’s part but an assurance based on God’s promise. He held on to God’s word even though his life was about to end.
God’s word fuels our faith. It gives us the strength to push ahead even when our present circumstances seem to be pointing to the opposite direction. This is the reason why a consistent study of God’s word - The Bible, is very crucial for a believer. When we neglect the word of God, we deny ourselves a critical piece of the armour that we need to stand in the face of difficult circumstances.
Of all the weapons of our spiritual warfare mentioned on Ephesians 6:14-17, the only offensive weapon mentioned, is the word of God - which is referred to as the sword of the Spirit. This was the same weapon Jesus used the tempter approached him saying, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus didn’t waste time saying, “How dare you! Do you know who I am?” He simply brought out the sword of the Spirit and used it, “It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)
For us to keep the faith in times like this, we need to to daily dig into God’s word and let it speak to us. The world around us speaks of despair, hopelessness and doubt about what the future hold but God’s word provides direction, it encourages, it strengthens but most importantly it focuses our attention on our Heavenly Father, who created us with a divine purpose and destiny.
Another important thing that will help us keep the faith in times like this is Fellowship. We should not forsake or abandon the assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:25) The NLT version of the Bible puts it this way, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near..". When we fellowship, we build each other up, we encourage one another and we stand as one to body carry out the mission that God have the Church. When we isolate ourselves and see no need to fellowship, we become easy pickings of our enemy satan whose only desire is to steal, kill and destroy.
Finally, we need to stir the gifts of God within us. The moment we give our lives to Christ, we are given gifts by the Holy Spirit. These gifts are given to us to use for the building up of the body of Christ. We need to desire and exercise those gifts because if we don’t, they become dormant and we deny the body of Christ the benefit of that gift God has given you.
No matter what you are faced with today, know this, God is on your side. Do not let the circumstances around you dictate your future, keep the faith, let God lead the way and you will surely emerge victoriously on the other side.