Throughout the Bible, God’s people are reminded – over and over and over – about all God did for them in the past, and as an encouragement to trust God in the present and future. For instance, when time came for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, they feared the Anakites, who were already living there. Deuteronomy 1:29-33 says,
Don’t be terrified! Don’t be afraid of them! The Lord your God is going before you. He will fight for you just as he fought for you in Egypt while you watched, and as you saw him do in the desert. Throughout your entire journey, until you reached this very place, the Lord your God has carried you just as a parent carries a child. But you had no faith in the Lord your God about this matter, even though he went ahead of you, scouting places where you should camp, in fire by night, so you could see the road you were taking, and in cloud during the daytime. (CEB)
In spite of considerable evidence of God’s past faithfulness, the Israelites lacked sufficient faith to face the challenges before them. And, if I’m honest, I’m exactly the same.
In a general sense, I believe all of the blessings I’ve received in life are gifts from God. Marriage and family. Friendship. Ministry. Life experiences. Health. Security. Education.
And, in many, more specific ways, I’m keenly aware of the countless ways God has been faithful – more than I can possibly name. Without a moments hesitation, I can share story after story of God’s particular faithfulness to me. A quick glance in the rearview mirror of my life reveals God faithfully, consistently, generously present and working, time and again. In the words of the great hymn…
“Great is thy faithfulness. Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
Looking in the rearview mirror of my life, my faith is strong. God HAS been faithful. Even reflecting on past pains and struggles, I can see how God was working.
But, in any given moment – or looking ahead – fear, doubt, and uncertainty often take over. Hebrews 11:1 says…
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
But, SEEING makes it SO much easier than hoping for what we don’t see!
So, I doubt. I worry and fret. I get scared. The “what if?” scenarios consume my thoughts, far more than my prayers. My prayers, themselves, lack the confidence of a man whom God has blessed as much and as often as me. I possess too little faith, and far too much fear and trembling.
The answer, of course, is surrendering our fears, and to possess more faith. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was just that easy!?! In reality, the best most of us can do is NOT act on our fears and doubts; acting instead on the flimsy faith we wish was stronger. Perhaps, one day, faith will come more automatically. But, it until it does, “fake it until you make it!”
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, once confessed to a Moravian pastor, Peter Bohler, thoughts of quitting the ministry. Wesley felt he lacked sufficient faith to preach, thinking, “How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?” Bohler’s advice to Wesley was,“By no means. Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”
The truth is, I preach more faith than I actually possess sometimes. I don’t mean to imply I don’t believe what I teach and preach – I do! I’m confessing I may lack sufficient faith and courage to act on what I say I believe. And, frankly, the acting on faith is far more important than the preaching of it!
The good news is, I’m not the first, only, or last to struggle with a meager or wavering faith. Neither are you. The Bible is full of weak-faithed servants of God, doing the best they can. The good news is, we too have faith-filled rearview mirrors to remind us of God’s history of faithfulness, in each of our lives, if we’ll only remember to look back and notice.
But, remember: you can only stare into the rearview mirror for so long. While it’s helpful to look back from time to time, life consistently moves forward, into the unknown. The past reveals God’s PAST faithfulness. The present and future is where we discover God’s continued faithfulness. NOW and THEN are where we act on faith, whether we have it sufficiently, or not.
So, move forward with faith, even if its scary. Move forward with faith, even if you don’t have enough. Act on faith, even when it’s weak. Then, maybe, we’ll discover what faith really is – confidence in what we hope for, and confidence in God. We have every reason to believe, and every reason to act, and plenty of evidence to believe God will be faithful.
He was then. He will be now.
What do you see in your rearview mirror?