Christian Faith Grows Through Challenges
by Abiding Love
[Jesus said] “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
What requires greater faith: walking on a tightrope extended one inch above your backyard or on one suspended over the Grand Canyon’s widest and deepest chasm?
The answer is obvious. There’s not much risk involved if the worst that can happen is some grass stains on your new white socks. But a head-first tumble into the rocky bottoms would ensure your speedy death.
It’s safe to say that we all want life to be easy and relatively risk-free, like that backyard scamper across a low-hanging tightrope. But often we feel suspended high above the Grand Canyon without a net, wondering whether our next step will be our last. At those times it’s natural to ask, “Where is God? Why is he allowing me to face these challenges and feel these anxieties?”
The irony is that those challenges are no accident; they’re divinely purposeful. When Jesus’ disciples once feared for their lives on a boat in the midst of a ferocious storm, Jesus lay sleeping in the stern. They wondered aloud whether Jesus would do anything to help them, but when the Master finally woke up, he wondered aloud why they were so afraid. At the height of their anxiety, Jesus showed his power by silencing the winds and waves, prompting them to ask, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27).
What we sometimes fail to appreciate is that Christian faith is not normally conceived and nurtured in the soft, green fields of life. Growth requires unforeseen visits to the rocky and treacherous desert, where we are compelled to recognize that there is no one to help—except Jesus, that is. Only then we see his power and love in a way that had previously been unrecognized, and Christian faith grows.
Yes, Jesus allows—even sends—challenges into our lives, not because he loves us a little but because he loves us much. He knows best how Christian faith grows best. It grows through challenges.
But with those challenges, he also sends his saving promise, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus, help me endure the challenges you send, as I cling forever to your saving promises. Amen.
Peace in Jesus,
Pastor John Gensmer
September 20, 2023
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