"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 22, 2012
My nephew, Jared, has been speaking to his youth group on the topic of faith the past few weeks. Here is a statement he made recently in one of his sermons: "Our faith is not about our circumstances. Our faith is about how great our God is. Our faith is in God's character, His mercy, His love...."
Too often our emotions or circumstances dictate how strong our faith is. It is easy to trust God and believe that He is working all things for our good when we are being blessed, our family are all healthy and well, and all our needs are being met.
One definition of faith is: complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It is also a strong belief in God.
I have heard people say that the opposite of faith is doubt. I'm not so sure that is true, for I believe that you can still have faith in God but have moments of doubt. There is a big difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty, while unbelief is an an absence of faith.
I have also heard it said that the opposite of faith is fear. I'm not completely convinced that that is true either. For I believe that you can consistently retain your faith in God, yet still experience moments of fear.
I read a statement recently that made me stop and think. It said, "The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty. I have found this to be so true. I find it much easier to be faithful when there is certainty, but it takes much more actual faith to keep going in the midst of doubt and the uncertain."
Life brings all of us those moments of uncertainty, when we don't know what the future holds or what is going to happen. The unexpected happens, and we are caught off-guard and find ourselves facing situations that we had no way of foreseeing. Our faith in God may be tested during those times, but that doesn't mean that we necessarily lose our faith.
On August 4, 2011 my brother-in-law, Jimmy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. There are no words that can even begin to express the shock that his diagnosis was for our family. He had not been sick, had not shown any prior symptoms; there had been absolutely no warning that anything was wrong with his health. If you had lined up my four brothers-in-law in front of me and asked me which one was the healthiest, I would have immediately answered, "Jimmy". If you had asked which one was most likely to experience major health issues, Jimmy would have been my very last choice. He was active, played basketball with the youth after church, was hard-working, ate healthy, rarely sick, full of energy, and full of life. He could run circles around a lot of men much younger than him. So when my sister was told what Jimmy's diagnosis was, she thought, "Surely, I misunderstood! The doctor can't be talking about my husband; he's healthy!"
The tumor covered the front left half of Jimmy's brain and he underwent major surgery. This past year he has undergone radiation treatments and chemotherapy. Yet through it all, he remained faithful to God. It was a life-changing situation for both him and Janie, yet overall they've had a blessed year. After this first happened, Janie told me that she and Jimmy had talked and their greatest desire was for God to be glorified, regardless of what happened. They didn't want to be glorified, didn't want their situation to be glorified, and they didn't want the pity of others. They wanted God to someway, somehow receive the glory and be honored; and He has been.
The past few weeks have been tough as Jimmy has weakened with the affects of this brain cancer. He has always been independent, and it has been heart-breaking to watch him slowly become dependent on others for his complete care. Yet I know that if he were able to communicate he would say, "Focus on Jesus. I want God to be glorified!"
I think we sometimes get confused on the meaning of Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
This verse says that all things work together for good -- not for our liking, but for our good. We may not always know what the good is or understand why God works the way He does, but that's when we choose to put our faith fully in Him and trust that He knows what He is doing and is working His good on our behalf.
I don't know why God chose Jimmy to carry this particular cross and fight this particular battle. What I do know is that Jimmy has endured this year with excellence and his faith in God has never wavered. I have not heard him utter words of self-pity or question, "Why me?" But he has steadfastly run the race that was set before him, has fought the good fight, and has kept his eyes on the finish line. That is true faith!
So I ask you, is your faith in God or is it in yourself? Is your faith in God or is it in your circumstances? Is your faith in God or is it in your finances, your family, your job, material possessions, etc? If you have not fully placed your faith in God, then when life brings you the unexpected and things don't go as planned, you will have no where to turn or no one to lean on. Fear will be your constant companion. But if we place our faith in God, when life hurls curve balls at us and we stand facing uncertain life-changing circumstances, we can still have peace and have God to lean on, knowing that He will be there with us each step of the way.
There really isn't anything comforting to say to someone going through a battle like the ones Loretta mentioned. It may be tempting to tell them, "God knows best." Or, "You'll see them soon."
Some people even say that if they have enough faith, they can make God give them the miracle they need desperately. That's a hurtful thing to say. It's just a different way to phrase, "it's your fault because you don't believe for a miracle." I actually heard an assistant pastor say that a deacon in the church died because someone lacked faith.
About the only comfort I know to offer is to just be there. If they want to talk, I can listen, too.
God's wisdom is far greater than ours. An adult's wisdom is greater than a kid's. But God's wisdom is so much greater than ours, that comparing an adult to a child isn't even close.
We can't understand why God would deny us some miracle that we know He can give us. We may say, "It isn't fair." or "But why?" It just doesn't make sense. When a kid wants to go play instead of getting ready for bed, or wants candy instead of broccoli, they may say the same things. It doesn't make sense to them. It's especially hard if their cousin gets to go outside or have desert--never mind that they finished their broccoli or are 10 years older. There's nothing comforting you could say for the kid, either.
I know it isn't comforting. But I don't think anything really is. That's why we rely on God's wisdom instead of our own.
Brunch or Breakfast Casserole
(This is really good; and if you have leftovers, they are great reheated the next morning.)
1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 pound pork sausage
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Crumble and cook sausage in medium skillet until browned; drain. Line bottom of greased 9x13 baking pan with crescent roll dough, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Sprinkle with sausage and cheese. Combine remaining ingredients in medium bowl until blended; pour over sausage. Bake 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares; serve hot. Refrigerate any leftovers.
My sister tried this while I was at her house and I tried it in ours, and it really does work great!
Tub and Shower Magic Cleaner:
Equal amounts of white vinegar and blue liquid Dawn dish detergent (Example: 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup Dawn)
Heat vinegar in microwave until hot and pour into a squirt bottle. Add the Dawn dish soap. Put the lid on and gently shake to mix. You now have a powerful cleaning product that will melt soap scum and tub and shower buildup, clean sinks, appliances, and just about anything. Just spray it on, scrub, rinse and be amazed. For tough soap scum build-up, spray on the mixture and allow to sit for 30 minutes, then scrub and rinse. The more you use this, the cleaner and easier your bathroom and appliances will be to clean.
A man is rich according to what he is, not what he has.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon