Life was Designed to be
Lived by Faith
Before I ever accepted God’s Son as my Savior, I had the popular notion that if I lived a good life and tried to do all the things I thought were right, God would reward me for my efforts, and He would remove any obstacles that could possibly hinder my journey.
And as I stepped into a relationship with Him, I added a few more “spiritual” dimensions to my criteria. These included reading the Bible every day, praying as often as I could, and saying grace before all my meals. That’s what I thought it meant to live by faith and what was required for me to rewarded by my faith.
Then I read the book of James. I noticed at the very beginning of that letter that I was to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. (James 1:2)”. I was puzzled by that fact that James chose to use the word “when” instead of “if” when referring to my relationship with trials. He seemed to be indicating that trials are inevitable—that it is only through trials that we can really learn to live by faith.
The Jewish believers whom James was addressing were suffering greatly for their faith. Many had been forced out of their jobs, excommunicated by their families, and forced to live in a Gentile world that was hostile to their Jewish heritage. Since these early believers suffered so greatly for their faith, how could I expect my walk with Christ to be pain-free?
God has brought many trials into my life, which have caused me to abandon my own efforts and rely totally on Him alone. Friends have died, and family issues have emerged in my life that created problems that only God could resolve.
And over the years, I have met in the offices of many businesspeople whose lives appeared to be perfect on the outside—free from pain and trials. They had lots of money, great houses, and all the creature comforts that I could imagine. And although everything seemed to be completely under their control, each of them was forced to face an issue that penetrated their life and compelled them to trust God rather than their own hard work and efforts. Sometimes, their crisis was job-related; others had marriages fall apart; sometimes, their health failed; and, still others encountered issues that were related to their children. In each case, these so-called successful people faced an issue that they couldn’t resolve on their own. Their faith was tested, and they were forced to trust God with the outcome.
By the end of Chapter 4, James warns us that we are all just vapors that appear for a little while and then vanish away. The truth is that we cannot control even one small part of our lives. No matter how much hard work, or how many “religious rituals” our life contains, at some point we will be brought to a place where we must put my faith in the almighty, sovereign God of the universe.
Bill Garrison, one of my mentors once wrote: “God has designed that we live life by faith. We can either choose to do this, or God will arrange for it to happen!”
God wants us to trust Him all the time, and James reminds us that God especially wants us to trust Him when we face trials. Things don’t just happen haphazardly or accidently to believers. They have meaning and purpose. God wants to use difficult trials to mold us and mature us and make us more like His Son Jesus.
When difficult times come, it is easy to question God and abandon our faith as the enemy sows doubts in our minds. Instead, we must turn to God and trust Him more, knowing that His plans are far greater than our own.
Let me leave you with Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways that your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”