There is a cool and unwavering confidence I sense from people who have walked closely with God for decades longer than I have. It’s like speaking to someone about a mutual friend whom they happen to know far more intimately than I do. And after walking so closely with him they know his character, they have seen his word ring true time and again, and have sensed his fidelity to them through all the seasons of change. They trust him.
Although they speak with great faith, they aren’t exempt from pain or hardship and never pretend to be. These are friends who are battling cancer, loss of a spouse, infertility, wayward children, financial stress, and caring for a loved one who has long since lost their faculties to mental decay.
Their words of hopefulness and assurance are not merely platitudes they recite to others to avoid the harshness of reality. No, their confidence is something tangible, familiar, and hard-won.
In the wake of losing his spouse, a friend once said to me, “Alyssa, God has been faithful to me thus far, and he will be faithful to me until the end. I have no doubt that he is still good.” I’ve often asked these friends of mine how they can respond with such an unmoving sense of assurance in light of the hardness of their circumstances. Many have often insisted that this confidence comes in waves, repeated reminders that God is really as big and powerful as he has been in the past. But that they are not exempt from moments of doubt. The thing that has always bolstered them up though, given them a more solid and unwavering confidence, has been a consistent and aggressive pursuit of knowing God. The more they know him, the more they can say, “thy will be done,” because they have tasted and seen that he is better than anything else their hearts may desire. I long for this kind of faith.
What my friends have taught me is that the pathway to great trust is not to ignore the realities of life, nor is it to blindly agree to trust in some unknown source of good. To trust in someone or something you must know the character of the one being trusted.
Over the past year, some friends and I started a challenge called the #biblestorychallenge. Our goal: simply to read through the whole Bible from cover to cover for the purpose of understanding the overall storyline of scripture—to grasp the unifying plot that weaves itself through every book. Our hope is to know Him more.
What I love is that the Bible is not just a nice story, it is a history that has marked the character of our God for centuries. What I didn’t realize when I started this challenge was how real, tangible, and confident my faith would become from rehearsing God’s faithfulness to others. I have seen who he was to the to the wayward and sinful Israelites, the rebellious and passionate King David, the confused and longing Abraham and Sarah, the ignored and silenced prophets, the locked up and abandoned Joseph, the timid and unfaithful disciples. To all of them, he was faithful.
Over the years I have often feared the reality that the great common denominator among all of us is that we live in a fallen world, where we will meet trials of various kinds. We are guaranteed hardship in unique ways, no one is exempt. But we are also guaranteed a faithful God.
This is why Bible intake is so necessary. I love how Jen Wilkin said it recently: “Devotional reading is like chamomile tea—a soothing drink before slumber. But no one drinks chamomile tea before going to war. We need stronger drink to combat the world, the flesh, and the devil. We need battle cries as well as lullabies. We need the full counsel of Scripture.”
So brothers and sisters, feast on his word. Pour over its pages and watch with eager eyes as God proves his faithfulness to you. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5).