A car broken down. A trip to the hospital. An unexpected expense. A broken heart. A death of a loved one.
It’s no wonder we have a difficult time trusting God. We trust those we see as trustworthy, meaning we will rest in someone we find security in. No risk of disappointment, and most of all, no risk of leaving. So when these stressors, these painful experiences come, we lose our sense of security. We can’t help but wonder, God… How are you faithful?
The Bible has painted God as faithful. Theologians and songwriters have echoed these words over the years, leaving behind their legacies of joy and rest in the Almighty One. We sing, “Great is Thy faithfulness” with a crescendo of confidence, but when we are in the midst of trials, it can raise feelings of bitterness. Resentment. Doubt. “Great is Thy faithfulness,” almost comes out in a tone of sarcasm.
“If You are so faithful, where are you now?”
A mix of pride and frustration arise – pride, because our fears are proven right all along, that God couldn’t possibly be perfectly faithful and perfectly good. We knew it. We knew it. He is fallible, just like everything we have seen on this earth.
Frustration, because we have those echoes of testaments to His faithfulness making what feel like false promises, and at the very least we wonder, “If God was faithful enough for them, why is He not for me?” Is God withholding Himself from me?
This is a thought process I have revisited over and over in my life, and most recently, I listened as a friend expressed the same fears. How can I call God faithful when one thing after another falls apart?
God is faithful. I can testify to this. But learning exactly how He is faithful was a long, arduous process, and the bottom line is this: God’s definition of faithfulness does not match our limited one, and it is so much more glorious and worthy of praise. When you doubt God’s faithfulness, step back. Revisit your definition of faithfulness. See that He is good.
Faithful to Redeem
When the world is chaos and you cannot process all the moving pieces, start at the foundation of your faith: the gospel.
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)
2000 years ago, the God of all space and time sent His son to pay the immense debt we owed. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, God made a promise to hold you in His righteousness until you closed your eyes for the last time, so that you could stand before Him, perfected, in eternity.
“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29) These are the words of Jesus. Once you are saved, you are secured – even though you sin day after day. You can entrust your soul to His salvation.
In light of this foundation, is God faithful? Are you still saved today, after days, months, or even years of sinning since you were first redeemed?
Yes. God is faithful.
Faithful to Renew
From there, let’s build on the foundation of our eternal salvation and look at our short lives on earth. How is God faithful here? Today? In our routines and errands and obligations?
God promised to hold you until your dying day. He made another promise in that moment when your identity changed from sinner to saint: to renew you and make you more into the likeness of His perfect son, Jesus.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24)
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
How does God fulfill this promise? In our sinful nature, we will attribute to ourselves all good results, if not at the very least forget God in the midst of them. We forget who our Provider and King is when we are comfortable. God very lovingly, in faithfulness to His promise, is willing to burn away what stands between us and Him. We cannot be purified and keep what pollutes us.
“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:10-11)
In addition to His faithfulness in keeping this promise, He is displaying His faithfulness as a Father. It is easy in many ways to live apart from the Lord, but it is a fruitless and deserted walk. We are held securely by the Father, who has adopted us as His children. And He is not a distant Father, but a close one, watching over our actions and ensuring that we receive what is best, for us and His glory.
A bad father holds no accountability toward His children. A good Father, one who truly loves, disciplines, with the goal of righteousness.
“‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5b-11)
We can sing the praise of Job, who faced physical and spiritual pain few have since known: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10)
In light of this relationship as children, is God faithful? Is He working to refine you today, in this trial, even if it is a lesson you have forgotten time and time again?
Yes. God is faithful.
Faithful to Remain
God is faithful to save and to hold. He is faithful to renew us and make us holy, perfected, redeemed. And God is faithful to remain.
God did not create the world in sin. He created it good. Untainted. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) And God intends to restore that goodness.
Until then, we live under our curse of a fallen world. We see betrayals and brokenness, pain that cannot be described as anything less than evil. People die, relationships die, even the earth endures death. We have hunger. We have disease. Our world lets us down and changes and leaves us behind.
But our God remains constant.
Hosea is a familiar story to believers. A man takes on a prostitute as his wife. The book of Hosea shares the heartbreak and laments of the author, and ends with this: Hosea redeems his wife.
While our world causes our good Creator great heartache and lament, He is constantly working to redeem it, too. And as His beloved, He never leaves us.
“The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.”
(II Timothy 2:11-13)
In our faithlessness, God has placed an insurance on His faithfulness. By calling us His own and living within us, His promise remains true, because He cannot separate from His own. That simply goes against His nature. Contrast this to the nature of the world, where simple bribery, whether in the form of money or approval or satisfaction or power or any earthly desire, can change loyalties in an instant. The nature of the world is one of infidelity. The nature of God is one of faithfulness.
[bctt tweet=”The nature of the world is one of infidelity. The nature of God is one of faithfulness.” username=”emmurbs”]
Jesus’s last words as He ascended into heaven were this very promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
Paul endured suffering (and ultimately martyrdom) in his relentless pursuit of sharing the gospel. His mentee and partner, Timothy, observed it all. He knew what came with chasing the Lord. And Paul confidently gave this last command to Timothy:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (II Timothy 4:1-2)
How could Paul so confidently urge Timothy to pursue what landed him in prison and led to his death? Because he knew God’s presence and His promises were far greater.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:8)
When our worlds fall apart, when our bodies break and friends betray us, when we are seemingly left with nothing, God remains. He is there to run to. He is there to console and counsel. He is there to assure. He is there to forgive and redeem. He is there to sustain.
Is God faithful, then? When everything around us is dying, breaking, and changing, does God remain changeless? Does His character remain constant apart from the chaos of the world? Is His presence still close, ready to hear your cries and to hold your tears? (Psalm 56:8)
Yes. God is faithful.
When trials come and you doubt the faithfulness of the Lord, may you recall these truths of how deep His faithfulness and goodness run. And may you confidently, truthfully sing, “Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”