Has your faith in God ever been shaken because He didn’t answer your prayers in a specific way? Have you ever doubted His love for you because you had to endure a painful trial? Many believers have.
Recently, God has been teaching me the same truth in several different ways. He must want to make sure I learn it. Here it is:
My faith must be in God and not in what I hope He will do for me.
Where is your faith?
A couple of years ago, I led a group of ladies through a study called “Live a Praying Life” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. It transformed our prayer lives and our understanding of God. In Week Ten, Jennifer explains that many believers become discouraged with prayer because they have a misguided understanding of faith.
Many of us mistakenly think that faith is “believing real hard.” If we believe hard enough then God will do what we want Him to do. Heal our spouse. Save our friend. Provide a job. Then when things don’t turn out like we want our assumption is that God doesn’t care or that God doesn’t answer prayer.
The problem with this thinking is that we’ve put our “faith” in an outcome instead of in our all-knowing, all-powerful God. Jennifer clarifies the issue:
Faith is not knowing how God will bring His will into being; faith is knowing that God will bring His will into being.
Into a fiery furnace
Those three faithful friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – demonstrate what it looks like to have faith in God and not an outcome. When the Babylonian authorities ordered these Israelite captives to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue or be thrown in the fiery furnace, they put their faith firmly in God.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will no serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18, NIV
These words grab my heart. They are one of the boldest declarations in all of Scripture:
“Our God is able! But even if He does not…”
We place our faith in God and worship Him because He is God and He is able. Not because He will see fit to handle things the way we, in our limited understanding, think they should be handled.
Living by Faith
The “Hall of Faith” in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, further demonstrates this truth. We learn that some “escaped the edge of the sword” while others were “put to death by the sword.” The common denominator in every life described in Hebrews eleven was not the physical outcome of their situation. No, rather each life memorialized in this well-loved chapter placed unshakeable faith in God. However He chose to use their life to further His kingdom, their faith remained solid and safe in the Person of God.
What does this mean for you and me? We can stand firmly on the truth that God will carry out His purposes. They will not be thwarted. The temporary physical circumstances may not be what we would choose, but we can know that God is working. We can peacefully rest in His loving, protective arms and trust His outcome.
Have you ever found yourself putting your faith in an outcome rather than God? Share a time that you were discouraged because your prayers were not answered in the way you thought they should have been.