In Paul’s last epistle, his second letter to Timothy, he made a compelling argument of faith that included these words: “…I know Whom I have believed, and I am persuaded…” [2 Timothy 1:12]. He made that statement in prison, awaiting death. Here was the great apostle who took the Gospel to the Gentiles in Roman chains, and some may have wondered why God hadn’t sent an angel to deliver him once again. Others may have even mocked his faith: “Where is your God now, Paul? The executioner’s sword is imminent and your God hasn’t lifted a finger to save you”. Yet, Paul was neither discouraged nor disappointed because he knew the God he trusted and had no doubt about His faithfulness, integrity and ability [Philippians 1:20-24]. So, his predicament didn’t change his mind one jot.
How many of the things you claim to believe are you willing to stake your life on? Talk is cheap is a common truism because it’s easy to make claims or take a stand when it costs you nothing. However, if you’re convinced of a truth, not even the threat of death can persuade you otherwise. Sadly, we seldom review our convictions because the truth might be too difficult to admit. Unfortunately, life doesn’t afford us that luxury. Eventually, life will test our claims, and what we do when the chips are down reveals what we genuinely believe. It’s often easy for us Christians to claim faith in God when nothing is on the line. We may attend church, read our Bibles, fast and pray religiously. While these things are profitable, how can we tell if they’ve translated to genuine convictions? Often in Scripture, God takes His people through experiences to reveal what is in their hearts – what they actually believe [Deuteronomy 8:2, 2 Chronicles 32:31]. Trials prove our faith [James 1:2-4]. So, when the going gets tough, will you trust and obey God without reservation, or will you renege on your claims?
My understanding of why God called Abraham His friend is becoming clearer [Isaiah 41:8]. God shows no partiality [Acts 10:34], so Abraham earned that title by going all in. He put everything – his family, livelihood, safety and reputation on the line when God called him to leave his homeland [Genesis 12:1-4]. Abraham waited another 25 years before God gave him his heart’s longing. Yet, he never gave up on God. There was no hint of idolatry in Abraham’s story. He hoped against all evidence to the contrary that his body and his wife’s womb, both as good as dead, would produce a child, fully persuaded God would keep His word [Romans 4:18-21, Hebrews 11:11]. Even when God asked Abraham to give up what he valued most [Genesis 22], his obedience was prompt and complete. Abraham trusted that his God could restore his beloved Isaac from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-20]. Abraham repeatedly risked all because he knew Whom he believed.
When we profess our faith in God, heaven and hell hear us. Although heaven is rooting for us, the enemy of our soul seeks every opportunity to plant doubt because he wants us to question God’s faithfulness, integrity and ability. As evident in Job’s life, the devil doesn’t engage in theoretical debates. Instead, if God permits him, he’ll orchestrate circumstances that will put your assertions to the test. If he dared to put God’s claims about Job to the test, how much more our claims about God? Sometimes, it’s not the devil; it’s just the vicissitudes of life – a consequence of living in a fallen world surrounded by imperfect people. In either case, how we respond to unexpected or challenging situations matters. Is God your first and only choice, or do you have plans B and C? Are you persuaded enough about God’s nature and character to say: “Though He slays me, yet I will trust Him” [Job 13:15]?
You may be going through the unexpected, wondering: “God are you there? Can you not see? Will you not help?” The temptation to seek alternatives might be unbearable. Nevertheless, I encourage you to double down and risk all on God. Settle it permanently in your mind and spirit that God loves you without reservation and always keeps His word because that knowledge is foundational to faith [Numbers 23:19]. If that’s not true, we have no reason to trust Him because there’d be no way of knowing which promises He will keep and which ones He won’t. Unless you genuinely believe that truth, you’ll never risk it all for God like Abraham, Job or Paul. If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you take the time to probe your convictions concerning God’s faithfulness, integrity and ability. It’s better to confront and settle your beliefs on your terms before life backs you into a corner.
I’ve often subliminally placed a timeframe on my prayer requests. Usually, my faith started to waver if that time elapsed and God hadn’t acted as I expected. Today, I’ve realised that God moves according to His counsel, not my preferences. My responsibility is to believe God and reject every thought contrary to His word [2 Corinthians 10:5], irrespective of circumstance, leaving the how and when to Him. Unfortunately, many of us are uncomfortable with the risk biblical faith entails. So, we make alternative plans. If you’re still trying to figure out what you’ll do if God doesn’t come through, then you’re not all in. I encourage you to look past your circumstances to God’s faithfulness, integrity and ability and let those attributes become a threefold anchor for you in your fiery furnace [Daniel 3:8-30, 2 Corinthians 5:7]. As Paul explained, it’s impossible for God to disappoint those who trust Him [Romans 10:11].