The writer of Hebrews inspires us with the simplicity of faith with the words, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We read on and learn that it is by faith that we are able to see that God created the heavens and the earth. We learn that by faith our spiritual forefathers learned of God and that by faith they lived in a relationship with God.
We learn that their faith sustained them. We read of miracles. We read of victories won and giants slain. But we also come to know of the heartache and loss of the believers who hoped against hope for something better. And we learn that “all of these were commended for their faith, yet none of these received what had been promised.” We learn that faith can bring about mountaintop experiences and that faith can also leave us with the haunting shadows that come with passing through the valleys of our life.
It’s hard to stand on shifting sand,
It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night.
You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help,
And you can’t love if you don’t love yourself.
But there is hope when my faith runs out,
‘Cause I’m in better hands now.
But what happens when faith runs out? What happens when there is a cataclysmic collision where hope meets hopelessness and fear meets faith? What happens when anticipation and expectation turn into heartache and despair? I know that this all sounds a bit depressing and down but I implore you to stay with me just a bit longer. I promise I’m headed somewhere positive.
I’ve spent the past few years trying to figure out what happened to God when I needed Him most. I’ve looked for lightning bolts. I’ve hoped for help and holy thunder. I’ve cried out for intervention and I’ve longed for rescue. I hoped and I believed but nothing happened. And now my faith has long been exhausted. It feels as though my faith has been depleted and dried up like an ancient river that long ago ceased to exist.
And so where does that leave God? Is He a fairy like Tinker Bell that only exists because little children believe? Is He like the Greek gods of legend that are only empowered by the prayers and petitions of the penitent? Does He only live in great examples that are evidence of His power, majesty, and might? I used to think so; but I’m learning more and more that the greatest demonstration of His existence is when it looks like He is doing nothing.
I am strong all because of You,
I stand in awe of every mountain that You move.
For I am changed - yesterday is gone,
I am safe from this moment on.
There’s no fear when the night comes round,
I’m in better hands now.
I’m learning that God is God whether I believe it or not. I’m learning that when I stop looking for lightning and when I stop listening for thunder that it is then, and only then, that I can best hear His voice. Many years ago I shared during a sermon that, more times than not, God chooses to take us through something rather than around it. My insides flip over and do jumping-jacks as I type those words today because I’m learning that His power is best demonstrated by letting me experience Him through my situation. His power and His deliverance would impress me. And certainly His touch would make all of this easier. But truthfully, it would not change me. And that’s what I need most. I want to be rescued but what I need more is to be transformed. It’s true that I don’t want to suffer but it’s also true that I don’t want to live another moment of this life without letting Him be what He already is; He is, in spite of me, still God.
It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down,
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground;
So take this heart of mine, there’s no doubt,
I’m in better hands now.
I don’t understand things any better today than I did yesterday. My scars are still fresh. My heart still hurts. My failure still stings and my dreams still haunt me. But with or without my faith, He is still God. And as I let that simple truth take root in my spirit, I feel something so very small and tiny. It’s about the size of a mustard seed. And if that teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, ever-so-fragile amount of faith can move mountains, then I think I’ll be okay.
The song lyrics sprinkled in my ramblings today are from the song, “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant. Those words as well as the words below from CS Lewis’s “The Boy and His Horse” have truly impacted me in incredible ways. I hope they encourage you to know today that even when your faith runs out, He is still there.
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. "There," it said, "that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows."
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, however so long it was since he had had anything to eat.
"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.
"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.
"There was only one lion," said the Voice.
"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"
"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."
"How do you know?"
"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."
"Who are you?" asked Shasta.
"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself", loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself", whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.