So often we seem to live with this mindset that if we just had enough faith, our plans, hopes and dreams, would all come true.
But what happens when, despite having a strong and vibrant faith, they still don’t?
Imagine what it’s like for the faithful pastor who desires to make Jesus’ name great in his community and among the people God has entrusted to his care, who preaches the Word of God faithfully and with conviction… but the church doesn’t grow like many say it “should.”
Or the parents who consistently train their children in the faith, yet their kids walk away.
Or the couple that prays for a baby, but infertility persists.
What do we do when “faith” seems to fail?
When this happens, the wisest course of action seems to be to examine the object of our faith—is faith in Christ the means to an end or the end Himself?
When faith becomes a means to improvement, victory, or whatever word you want to use, faith ultimately becomes about one thing: glory.
More specifically, my own glory.
Faith allows me to improve in my character. Faith gives me victory. Faith becomes about me.
But when I’m the point of faith, and Jesus is the means by which I self-actualize my potential, I’m headed for disaster. I love the way Tullian Tchividjian puts it in his new book, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free:
The house of religious cards “that glory built” collapse when we inevitably encounter unforeseen pain and suffering When the economy tanks and you lose your job of thirty years, or when, God forbid, your child gets into a car accident (or is exposed to something damaging). When you simply can’t keep your mouth shut about your in-laws even though you promised you would. When the waters rise and the levee breaks. Suddenly, the mask comes off, and the glory road reaches a dead end. We come to the end of ourselves, in other words, to our ruin, to our knees, to the place where if we are to find any help or comfort, it must come from somewhere outside of us. Much to our surprise, this is the precise place where the good news of the gospel—that God did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself—finally makes sense. It finally sounds good! (p. 47)
The house of cards that human vain-glory built will always collapse under the weight of pain and suffering. Only Christ is sufficient to carry us through trial and difficulty.
Where is our hope? What is faith? Is Jesus the means to an end, or is Jesus the end in and of Himself?