Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Search for Faith

“[W]hen the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The answer to this question matters. God loves faith, not least because it is faith that produces every work which pleases him.

Hebrews 11 catalogs a variety of wonderful things faith does in the lives of believers, all of which delight the heart of God.

By Faith ...

By faith we understand. By faith we worship. By faith we live. By faith we condemn the world with our righteous conduct. By faith we obey. By faith we anticipate better things. By faith we show hospitality to the people of God in a world which rejects them. By faith we do little things and big things, from giving directions about a funeral to conquering a kingdom.

When the Son of Man looks for faith, it is because faith lies at the root of every human thought, word or action that gives God pleasure, and faithlessness lies at the root of all that frustrates and grieves him. A faithless generation is a perverse generation. Maybe not all faithlessness is perverse, but all perversity is definitely faithless.

God loves faith. In search of it, he tests those he loves most and with whom he is closest. A relationship grounded in faith is a relationship in which one party can ask something entirely outrageous and the other will willingly comply, knowing beyond any question that the one making the request would never wish him ill or do him lasting harm. These are the strongest relationships that exist.

Failing Faith

There are points at which my faith in any other human being may fail, and justifiably so. I may trust my brother in Christ under normal circumstances, but what if he is entering the early stages of dementia, or suffering from some sort of chemical imbalance? What if he forgets, or fears, or has a moment of poor judgment, or slips up in some other intended or unintended way? I may trust my brother in Christ under normal circumstances, but what might he be willing to do if his family is threatened? This is the dilemma that faces believers in countries hostile to the faith, as the authorities there relentlessly go about trying to break it. Human faith in human beings fails all the time; no surprise there.

But a relationship with God is not subject to these sorts of concerns, because “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” God cannot be threatened. He cannot fear. He cannot forget. He cannot falter. He does not make mistakes. He does not weaken or become fragile with age and infirmity.

More Precious Than Gold

When we come to God, we come to the one person who is completely and utterly worthy of our trust, at all times and in all circumstances. It is this sort of relationship God cultivates and maintains and prizes “so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

More precious than gold. Do we believe that? That’s how God views the faith of his children. That’s the treasure the Son of Man is seeking.

Things That Last and Things That Don’t

If we understand the importance of faith to God, we have no problem with questions like “Why does a loving God allow pain and suffering?” Because pain and suffering, however unpleasant they may be, do not last. Human beings do. Abraham considered that God was able to raise the dead. He is. The faithful who understood this throughout history embraced the pain inflicted on them because they knew it would produce only good things. “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.” They did a cost/benefit analysis and opted to die.

Do I have faith like that? Probably not. I’d like to hope I do, but nobody knows for sure until we are tested, do we? Happily, I have not yet been asked to demonstrate that level of trust.

Faith in Small Things

That said, there is certainly a level of trust required of me even in my pleasant, indulgent Western existence. I may demonstrate my faith even now, when it costs me comparatively little, by rejecting the appeals of the world, the compromises of our culture, the siren song of the flesh and the lure of divided loyalties, and instead clinging to Christ.

This sort of faith may only come out in small ways, but these little evidences of genuine trust are not trivial to God. Joseph’s faith is mentioned along with Daniel’s, though Daniel’s faith stopped the mouths of lions and Joseph’s only resulted in some directions about bones. Jacob’s faith is mentioned alongside Rahab’s, though she risked her life by welcoming spies, and Jacob only blessed a couple of grandchildren on his deathbed.

A Book was Written

In Malachi, it is recorded that faithful Israelites in a time of spiritual decline “spoke with one another.” That’s it. That’s all. A comparative nothing if you set it alongside the crossing of the Red Sea or the taking of Jericho. And yet a book of remembrance was written about them because they “feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” An act of faith. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession.” That’s the value of such faith to God.

If faith is at the root of it, the smallest act matters. A thought. A gesture. A conversation. Surely you and I are up to that. If we are not, it is highly unlikely we’ll be up to anything greater or more memorable.


  1. A couple of points. Really, God cannot forget? I thought he clearly stated that he makes himself forget in certain circumstances (I think many of us, unless we play Jeopardy, also make ourselves forget useless junk 8-).

    More to the point, here is a new documentary web site started by someone who wants to make known the plight of those people who are afflicted incurably their whole life and how often only faith sustains them and still allows them to go on. This particular founder of the site is afflicted with MdDs. My family can relate to that since my daughter contracted this terrible and incurable imbalance condition on her honeymoon cruise 13 years ago when the captain decided to ride out two hurricanes instead of pulling into port and the ship doctor injected her with drugs for sea sickness that are now illegal because of their toxicity.

    It is faith and her family's love that gets her through every day.

    As an aside, but if you are familiar with MdDs and the risk for it (which is cleverly hidden by the cruise industry), you will, like us, NEVER take a cruise.

    1. Very sorry to hear about your daughter's situation, Q, but as you say, it makes a huge difference to have a living faith.

  2. Thanks Tom. Yes, for her it does.