When one goes to school to study theology and the Bible it is easy to begin to make Bible reading and study about getting the right things from the chapter or verses that you’re reading. Of course this isn’t limited to seminary graduates or any kind of Bible major. All it takes is a good amount of time in any church or studying the Bible, and it is easier to focus on being right than it is to actually live based on that knowledge.
I’ve been faced with this lately. As I’ve been blogging through the book of Genesis I’ve been hitting a lot of chapters and passages that seem to be about God’s faithfulness drawn out of Abraham’s story. The idea that God is faithful, is not original in the least nor is it all that controversial of a thought. Despite this, I’ve been struggling with these passages or at least the conclusions regarding God’s faithfulness and our need for trust in him even during struggles in our lives.
It is one thing to know this and to present it as what a passage is about, it is another thing to live it out. To know that faith is hard in the midst of struggles. I say, and believe, that God is faithful on one hand, but struggle with that reality as I watch a loved one struggle with health issue after health issue.
To see God’s faithfulness in the midst of life’s struggles. That is one of the hardest aspects of faith. I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with that. I mean even in the chapters that I’ve been going through in Genesis, Abraham sure seems to have a hard time trusting in God, keeping his own fear under control, and believing that this God he has decided to follow is ultimately going to do what was promised.
When life gets hard it is so easy to wonder where God is in all of this. How is this struggle a sign of God’s faithfulness? How does cancer and illness and seemingly senseless death jive with a faithful God? I don’t feel I have a satisfactory answer to that question.
I don’t want to make it sound like I’m somehow losing faith. I still believe in God, but I don’t feel I have the answers as to why bad things happen. I guess my point in all this is that sometimes when we talk about faith in God or Jesus or about stories in the Bible it is easy to disconnect it from the everyday experiences that we have.
I’m not simply talking about failing to provide some type of practical application from a passage. What I’m talking about is saying something like “God is faithful,” but failing to understand that for some people God’s faithfulness seems to be lacking in their lives or the lives of one of their loved ones. It can too easily sound like God will never let anything bad happen, and clearly that’s not what it’s about.
I believe that God is good and that God is faithful. I also struggle to know what that exactly means and how to process that truth when life produces sorrow. I feel like Abraham telling God, “what good thing can you give to me,” because it certainly doesn’t seem like you’re giving too much good right now.
I simply say all of this because I do believe that our faith needs to express the doubt and struggles we face. I’m not being truthful with God or anyone else for that matter by pretending that the struggles of life don’t make me question what God is up to. I’ll probably never know for certain what God is up to in the circumstances that lead to sorrow, but I still have faith. I believe that God is faithful even when I don’t know exactly what that will look like.