Wednesday, July 16, 2008

THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH

What foundation is your faith built upon? Scripture tells us faith comes by hearing, and that God’s Word gives us “spiritual ears,” enabling us to hear (see Romans 10:17). Well, here’s what the Bible says about the wilderness experiences in our lives:

• “Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up…Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good…hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble” (Psalm 69:15-17). Clearly waters of affliction flood the lives of the godly.

• “For thou, O God, has proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins…we went through fire and through water” (66:10-12). Who brings us into a net of afflictions? God himself does.

• “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (119:67, 71). These verses make it perfectly clear. It’s good for us—it even blesses us—to be afflicted.

Consider the Psalmist’s testimony: “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications…. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:1-4). Here was a faithful servant who loved God and had great faith. Yet he faced the sorrows of pain, trouble and death.

We find this theme throughout the Bible. God’s Word loudly declares that the path to faith is through the floods and fires: “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters” (Psalm 77:19). “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth…. I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 41:13). “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13).

This last verse holds an important key: In every wilderness we face, our Father is holding our hand. Yet only those who go through the wilderness get this hand of comfort. He outstretches it to those who are caught in raging rivers of trouble.