Doubt is devastating to the potential of your soul. It is easy to trust and believe when your living safely, under personal control of your life. However, faith takes you to personal, dark and sacrificial places. It is an obscured path with uncertain, temporal outcomes.
I have watched motocross riders making jumps. Doubt kills. If they choke in the middle of a jump, if they freeze: they are done! Every time they fly through the air they are at risk (This is on my mind because I just watched some amazing Youtube clips.).
So many people lose their faith in difficulties. Bills, family and death strain people to the edge of their faith, and many walk away. They are despondent and mad at God many times. But can this be called faith?
Psalms 23 reads in part: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” NIV
This an important section of scripture. Some shudder at problems and difficulties as if something strange were happening. For one thing, life is tough by itself. No one escapes without trouble; it is simply the nature of things and surprises many Christians. They are shocked that this happens in spite of attending church and worshipping; sickness, difficulty, and death fall upon them, and their loved ones.
If you pass this qualification, you may go to the next tier of faith. What I mean by qualify, is that your faith must overcome natural difficulties. Then come the tests of faith for righteousness sake.
Even if one passes through the first tier, few ever enter into this second tier. Most are happy to dwell in tier-one. You can if you want, because you control this in large part. Living righteously is how you enter into tier-two. You may think “Oh, then I qualify!” Not so fast; let’s look and see.
Here are some things that we do in righteousness that can cause suffering. Working on the Sabbath, caring for the broken, standing against injustice, giving tithe and offering, not complying with law contrary to God’s word, speaking against sinful social issues, and evangelizing can cause you great difficulties.
By not working on the Sabbath you may get fired or not be hired. I have lost thousands of dollars and opportunities for Sabbath observance.
Caring for the broken will take money and family time. It may even occupy the spare bedroom or couch. This can be real uncomfortable for the family. Moreover, many times the ones you help are ungrateful and wicked expressing their venom at you; the herald of mercy.
Standing against injustice may get you ridiculed. You may have to do peaceful protests. This could get you arrested, which stains your clean record and reputation.
Giving tithe and offering burdens your finances. This leaves less money for vacations, new cars, bigger houses, and security. You may have to retire at 70 or 75 years old.
Not complying with laws contrary to God’s word may get you fined, your property confiscated, or jailed. Many laws are formed that violate our mandates from God. The most recent is funding abortion with tax dollars and requiring employers to finance abortion through insurance premiums.
Speaking against sinful social issues is becoming a problem also. I have been warned on a blog I participate (under a Christian management) just mentioning homosexuality in a negative light. I recently received vile comments on a blog I wrote just mentioning homosexuality (it was only mentioned and not the heart of the blog.). I mentioned homosexuality (at Starbucks), making light of the new law in our state legalizing homosexual marriage and received cold stares. But this is not limited to homosexuality but continues to abortion, sex outside wedlock, destructive social welfare programs and many other destructive forces in our country.
Evangelizing is frowned upon by some and can cause you problems. You can lose jobs, be shunned, talked about, lose promotions and be disparaged at family gathers.
This requires perseverance and faith to continue to do right and suffer. As you can see, and must agree, few enter this tier of faith. Some enter in until they are bit by the dog and then retract, learning their lesson. They rightly conclude “Stay out of the pen and you do not get bit.”
I used to try hard to stay away from trouble. I bet you have also. But God calls us to the front lines where His Son fought bravely. We will feel alone but remember the Son; remember the Psalm.
There is another kind of suffering. You walk and dwell in the second tier and you have learned to thrive. You take on the challenges and stand firm. Now look at Job!
Tier-three is the final test, not the final leg in the race but the toughest. In the midst of tier-two living everything falls apart. You love Him, you embrace His sacrificial work and it happens!
You lose your job, your home is taken, the kids are doing bad, your spouse is grumpy and suffering. People reject you! The hope you had that lives would be changed because of your faith has not materialized. Friends suspect (as with Job) that you must be in secret sin and pride. Tier-one dwellers think this is the cause of the perceived curse. This leaves you isolated. No one understands or can. You become the poster child of curse and foolishness. Your demise is justification for others to remain tier-one dwellers. They are certain they were right to not wonder the Netherlands with you: You: the foolish and cursed!
Hold firm because you can thrive here also.
Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil because He, the Living God, is cheering you on…do not quit…finish….run hard and if you are tired grab His hand and run harder.
These are the Saints: these thrive under all conditions….these dwell with the Most High….sons and daughters of God!