August 29, 2015

Faith knows the outcome

Isaiah 60:1–62:12, Luke 22:63–23:25, Job 13:13–28

When I became a Christian, one of the first truths God showed me was that He uses all things for good in my life (Romans 8:28-29) to make me more like Jesus. But, I still need reminding. Some days I take a close look at myself and say, “Yea, right” wondering if this will ever happen.

I’m sure the Israelites felt the same way in many points of their history. When Isaiah wrote his book, they were in moral and spiritual decline. Soon they would be exiled to Babylon, yet God would bring them back to their land and restore them. He continually reminded them that He would use this captivity for their good.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1–2)

These words remind me also that God will eventually turn away all my struggles and problems. He will cause His glory to be seen in me, even if the rest of the world is in darkness.

Isaiah also says, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:1–3)

They may not have believed this at the time, but they needed to hear it. The Word of God would give them hope, just as it does the same for me.

Job was in a worse pickle. At least the Israelites had some inkling that their sins brought God’s chastening, but Job had no idea why God allowed all the trials he was experiencing. However, throughout his story, there are glimpses that he had hope. He knew God would eventually make things right. Early in his story, he declared that hope: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. Keep listening to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears. Behold, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be in the right.” (Job 13:15–18)

Job never did find out the reason for his trials, but his hope sustained him, even though he contended with God about the mystery of his suffering. God never chastened him for that, perhaps because He knew that down in the very depths of Job’s heart was genuine faith. His trust wavered and rose and fell, but it did not disappear.

In my experiences with God, I know this reality. When in trial after trial, or temptation after temptation, faith might appear to take wings, but it never disappears. Faith is a gift from God and He keeps sending it back. I know deep down in my heart that God can be trusted. All else might fail, but He never fails and nothing is too hard for Him.

Jesus knew it too. “When day came (the day of His crucifixion), the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’”

Jesus was not in despair. He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:66–69)

Because of His faith, Jesus knew that the most awful thing would work out for good — and it did.

This is the same faith that God gives me. When I am tempted to give up, that still small voice whispers, “I am right here” and I know that He is. His plans are perfect, even for my good, and He will never leave me or forsake me. The faith of Jesus Christ knows the outcome — light, glory, full righteousness, a crown of glory, His dominion over all, godlessness vanquished and Jesus seated at the right hand of God! Faith is confident in God for the outcome.

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