When Faith Fails

 

 

 

“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” –Jesus, as quoted in John 11:44 NKJV

 When her husband, Jim, was speared to death by the Auca Indians he was trying to reach with the Gospel, Elisabeth Elliot, who’d just turned 29 a month earlier, was left with a 10-month-old daughter.

Yet Elisabeth didn’t pull up stakes and return to the US. She remained in Ecuador, living among and ministering to the Quichua tribe, continuing the work she and Jim began. She chose believe God, His Word, and His promises, despite the circumstances. In time, she served as a missionary to the very tribe that killed her husband.

While scant few believers will ever experience a trial by fire like Elisabeth did, we all eventually come to a point where we feel faith has failed us.

When are those times?

When others fail you. You’ve been betrayed, lied to, used by someone you trusted. Or perhaps someone made a promise – sincere at the time – they didn’t fulfill. More than once.

What then?

Check on where your faith resides.

Remember King David. He was betrayed over and over throughout his life – by close friends, by his own son. He chose not to become bitter, but to forgive and move on. That didn’t mean he trusted those who failed him. It means he chose to acknowledge we humans are an imperfect lot. I know I’ve failed others many times. I’m thankful for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and second chances.

David knew where he could put his faith and it wouldn’t fail him: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). God will never let you down.

Another time your faith falters is when you don’t get what you ask for in prayer. Your requests to the Almighty aren’t answered when and how you think they should. Or you think they haven’t been answered at all.

What then?

Ask yourself: Is my faith in prayer – or in the One who hears and answers? God will never let you down. Your loving Father knows what is best for you. His answers are always exactly what and when you need them.

Remember Psalm 5:3: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Another time faith may fail is when you don’t get the promised rewards for your obedience. You’ve given your time, talent, and treasure to God, to the church, to worthy causes, often at great sacrifice, expecting the windows of heaven to open and a blessing so great, you don’t have room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:10).

Yet the windows remain firmly shut and your coffers empty.

What then?

Check your motives. Are you obeying out of love for God or for the rewards you want?

Maybe you’ve received your rewards, but you just can’t see them. Look again. This time with eyes opened by divine perspective.

Who says all our rewards are monetary, material? What about good health? What about receiving just what you need when you need it? What about the respect of others? A good reputation? The love of your spouse and children? A roof over your head? Food on the table? Enough money in the bank to pay the bills (sometimes just enough)? A cup of tea (or coffee) with a friend? Eyes to see the sky in all its moods, the sun as it rises and sets, the birds at the birdfeeder? Ears to hear the wind in the trees, the gurgling of a brook, the roar of the ocean . . .

Blessings are all around us, if only we have the eyes of faith to see them.

Remember: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV, emphasis mine).

Others will fail you, prayers won’t get answered when and how you want them to, and you won’t always get what you think you deserve.

But our faithful God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). And that’s a promise you can count on.

Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief. Increase my faith. Amen.

Read and meditate on John 11:1–44

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Stray or Stay?

Me and Dean, December 22, 1973

 

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled. – Hebrews 13:4 (RSV)

You shall not commit adultery. – Exodus 20:14

Hippie wanna-be that I was in the early 1970s, I still chose the traditional wedding vows: “To have and to hold; for better or worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and health; to love and to cherish; forsaking all others, till death do us part.”

On that day my heart focused on the “better, richer, health” part of that promise. After all, doesn’t true love conquer all? Three years later our first child was born, and romance turned to reality. For the next 20 years, we struggled with raising three children on one income, building a house, and fighting the usual battles with life. The better became worse, richer became poorer, and, while our general health remained good, our bodies began to remind us that we weren’t getting any younger.

Then, 23 years after saying “I do,” I ran away from home. There were other factors in my decision to flee to my brother and his wife in Alabama, but my intention was not just a casual visit: I asked him if I could live with him. He responded by purchasing me a two-way plane ticket for a nine-day stay.

The morning before I left, I asked my husband to pray with me. In the predawn darkness, we knelt before the love seat in the living room, and I wrapped my arms around him. I visualized holding our relationship, like a wounded, broken bird, in my cupped hands and raising it up to heaven.

“Lord,” I prayed silently, “I’ve done my best, but things just keep getting worse. Make it better. Please. I give it all to You. I don’t know what else to do.”

There were no issues such as addiction, unfaithfulness, or abuse. It was simply that there seemed to be nothing left – no love, only heartache, disappointment, and frustration. We never talked heart to heart.

I spent the next nine days praying, reading, and searching for answers.

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way,” my brother told me before I returned home.

Seven years later my husband and I knelt before God again. This time it was in church, at his request.

“Let’s go up and thank God for our relationship,” he whispered to me during the altar call.

As we prayed together, his arm wrapped around me, and I remembered that dark morning when I didn’t think there was anything left. I was wrong. There was: God. Through His power we were able to work through the issues that threatened our marriage.

Dean and me on a day out with family, March 18, 2017

Not that things are hunky dory, even now, during the empty nest years and we have time for each other. At times we’re like a couple of quirky, squirrelly old folks. But we’ve learned that love is not only a feeling. It’s also an act of the will.

What happens when passion ebbs, our bodies begin to break down, and the hormones dry up? Modern society would have us believe that we can find fulfillment in pills, watching porn, sleeping around. But that’s not what God’s Word says.

“Honor your marriage and its vows, and remain faithful to one another, guarding the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband” (Hebrews 13:4).

Honor means to prize highly, to cherish, to show respect for, to treat as precious and valuable. From the romance stage to the reality stage to the revival stage, marriage is a choice, not a fairy tale. If we commit ourselves unselfishly to our spouses, love them as Christ loves His Bride, the Church (sacrificially), then we won’t be tempted to stray – but instead, with God’s help, stay and make our marriages all they can be.

January 2016

Bless our marriage, Lord. Help us to resolve the issues that threaten our commitment to each other. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:21–33; Psalm 119:97–112

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.