We’ve all been there — in those dark times when hope is hard to find.
For me it was more than 20 years ago, when my mother was in the throes of severe mental illness. The ripple effects caused confusion and pain that soon engulfed our family in trouble and immense sadness.
In those days of darkness and suffering, I could not see God. I could not feel him. He was nowhere to be found.
So when I awoke each morning, I made it my purpose to pray: “Dear Jesus, on this day, I choose to believe. I choose to believe that you are near, and that your promises in your word are always true.” Day after day, month after month, year after year, I decided to believe. Sometimes I even needed to pray my faith hourly. I consciously made this simple yet profound decision of faith repeatedly throughout the storm until the tsunami completed its path of destruction through my life.
That decision to constantly place my faith in God proved to be enough.
Mankind has the deadly habit of placing our faith in temporary, imperfect things: politics, work, the economy, social activities — even organized religion. While these things are important and can help us make sense of our lives, they will always disappoint us. Why? Because they are activities of imperfect, fallen men. Becoming obsessed with any human endeavor will ultimately lead to emptiness and despair if it causes us to ignore the small voice deep in our souls that constantly whispers, “There must be more to life than this.”
Our hearts long for the presence of the almighty God. So why do we work so hard to keep our focus elsewhere?
Perhaps it’s because the idea of faith in an unchanging, all-merciful, omnipotent God is subject to constant ridicule by our broken culture; we are afraid of the disdain that comes with “believing.” It’s been this way since the dawn of time, but in America, a country that still allows us to practice faith in just about anything, the cultural forces now are arrayed to destroy the legitimacy of the decision to place one’s faith in Jesus.
Or maybe we refuse to release our faith simply because our stinking pride gets in the way. We’d rather try to “do it ourselves” and live in the resulting half-hearted state than to surrender our will to the God of the Bible.
Sometimes we reject Christ because we confuse religious practice (man’s attempt at being righteous, which always comes up short) with the act of personally placing our faith in the God who created us, and who is perfect and separate from us.
In these days leading up to Easter, why not take the time to reflect on where you place your faith and hope? Easter reveals that Jesus is worthy of your trust. His death and resurrection prove that he is the only way, the only truth and the only life.
In Hebrews 11:1, faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In Romans, Galatians and so many other passages, we are told that in order to be accepted by God, we must trust in, cling to and rely on Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8 summarizes what awaits those who place their faith in him: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.” We are graciously saved from despair in this life, and saved for an everlasting relationship with our creator! How beautiful that such salvation doesn’t come from our efforts to do good. It is the compassionate and undeserved gift of God to all who believe.
I pray that in this Easter season you will pledge your faith to the one who keeps his promises. In so doing, you will discover that in every circumstance — whether in times of suffering or thriving — placing your faith in God will prove to be enough.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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