What kills our faith is not the hardship we have to endure or the things that happen to us which we cannot explain. Rather, what kills our faith is a wrong understanding or incomplete picture of who God is.
Hardship is a word with a basic definition which we all understand, and yet the actual meaning of the word is different for all of us. For some, hardship means driving an older unreliable vehicle which sometimes won’t start. Others have to work long hours including weekends, while friends or family members work only half-day for double the pay. For many, hardship means not always having something to eat.
Then there are those who experience hardship at a level so difficult and intense, you will only appreciate the true meaning of it if you yourself went through it. Someone who was molested, for example, experienced a pain far more traumatic and intense than anybody else could understand unless they themselves had also gone through a similar experience. The same goes for those who experienced the loss of a child, went through a divorce or walked the road of battling an incurable disease. For those people the word ‘hardship’ has taken on a whole new meaning. The reality of the pain experienced can be so great it will either make the person or break the person.
When we experience hardship with an intensity of this nature, the first thing that gets exposed is our foundational understanding of who God is. The person who believes God always gives us our heart’s desires, will begin to question the goodness of the Lord. The person who feels God is cruel and unjust by nature, will have his wrong beliefs about God enforced.
Secondly, experiencing extreme hardship exposes idols in our lives. Idols can be anything from a person or a thing in which we find our comfort, to something or someone in which we place our confidence instead of trusting in Jesus Christ alone.
If we want to endure and overcome hardship, it is important to have a biblically sound understanding of who God is. While there are many aspects or characteristics of God, we first and foremost need to understand that God is the Creator of all things, and that God is the owner of everyone and everything.
God Is The Creator Of Everything
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God (Elohim) created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth.”
The original word in the Hebrew language translated as God, is Elohim. Elohim is one of the many names of God, which more accurately describes the particular characteristic of God with which we are dealing with in the passage. For example, in Genesis 17:1 God revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, meaning Almighty God, which is another characteristic of who God is. Elohim means God the Creator.
The word Elohim is also a plural form, which is indicative of more than one entity. Genesis 1:26 sheds some light on why the plural form is used as God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” The Amplified Bible translates the verse in this way: “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]…”
The first key to developing our faith so we can endure (and overcome) hardship is to understand that God is the Creator of everything, including you and I. Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our Potter, And we all are the work of Your hand.” Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life [which inspires me].” Of the Son, Jesus Christ, Colossians 1:15-16 says, “He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]… … For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible…”
It is clear from Scripture that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were actively involved when you and I were created.
God Is The Owner Of All Things
The second key to developing our faith is understanding that God owns everything. One of the greatest discoveries any man can make is when he realises that instead of owning anything, he is only the steward of things.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, the world, and those who dwell in it.” When we understand that God is the owner of everything, it lifts an immense burden off from our shoulders. God is very capable of taking care of that which belongs to Him, while we only have the privilege of stewarding whatever He entrusts us with – whether it be earthly treasures or family members like children and grandchildren.
Job is a great example of someone who knew that God owned everything. Job knew that whatever he had was a blessing that could be taken away as easily as it was given. Job understood that nothing could be taken for granted, and that the grace of God was a gift to be treasured.
In the opening chapter of the Book of Job we read about a great tragedy that befell Job. Job was one of the richest men in the land who not only had great possessions, but he also had seven sons and three daughters. Then one day Job not only lost his possessions, but he lost his children too. Imagine for a moment what it must have felt like, losing ten children in one day. Only a parent can begin to fathom what Job must have experienced.
What was Job’s response? Job 1:20-22 say, “Then Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [in mourning for the children], and he fell to the ground and worshiped [God]. 21He said, ‘Naked (without possessions) I came [into this world] from my mother’s womb, And naked I will return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”
When we realise that God is the owner of everything, it helps us to stay focused on the Lord instead of the problem we are facing. It also helps us to stay strong in our faith, and even in the most difficult times the result of our faith can (and should) be worship unto the Lord – the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away. The Lord who is always to be praised!
God Is Love
1 John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]” The rest of the chapter goes on to explain that God loves us so much He sent His Son into the world to die in our place on the cross, so we don’t have to.
Since God is love, everything He does originates from love. While we may not always understand why we go through a difficult time or experience hardship, an understanding of God’s love is essential to deal with any pain and suffering we might be going through.
God Is Omniscient
God is omniscient. This means God knows everything. He is all-knowing and all-seeing. Nothing escapes his attention, and nothing is hidden from Him. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.” Psalm 139:4 says, “Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O Lord, You know it all.”
Because God is omniscient (all-knowing), it also means He lives outside of time. Therefore God is not limited to or bound by the dimension of time.
God Is Omnipotent
God is omnipotent. This means God is almighty, all-powerful and invincible. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” Revelation 1:8 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega [the Beginning and the End], says the Lord God, Who is [existing forever] and Who was [continually existing in the past] and Who is to come, the Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all].” God is an unstoppable force against whom no man (or devil) can stand.
In Exodus 3, we read about Moses and how God spoke to him in the desert through the burning bush. Moses had to go back to his people and tell them that God had sent him on a mission to deliver them from the Egyptians. In Exodus 3:13 Moses wanted to know how he could describe God to his people, and in verse 14 God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am; You shall say this to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”
These are just some of the characteristics of God which we, in our human capacity, struggle to understand. Yet, when we embrace these characteristics of God, it changes how we process everything that happens in life. More specifically, it helps us to deal with the things in our own lives which we can’t always make sense of.
For example, in the midst of tragedy, Job was only able to find solace in the fact that God was in total control. Job knew that God was able to give, and that God had all the right to take away what He had given. Because of this, Job could praise the Lord, no matter what.
Similarly, David, who was anointed to be King of Israel, waited over 20 years before it became official. Numerous times David had the opportunity to dethrone the ungodly king called Saul and to rule in his place. However, because David knew who God was, he was able to wait patiently for God to place him in the position of power based on God’s timing, and not his own.
What Kills Our Faith In Hard Times
God is far greater than I could attempt to describe in one post, and there are many other characteristics of God not mentioned here. What kills our faith is not the hardship we have to endure or the things that happen to us which we cannot explain. Rather, what kills our faith is a wrong understanding or incomplete picture of who God is.
For example, the Bible says God is our healer, our provider, our teacher, our comforter and the list goes on and on. When we embrace only some of the characteristics of God which we prefer or are more comfortable with and reject the others, we become frustrated or feel disappointed when things don’t go the way we hoped they would. If you place too high an emphasis on God as the provider, you could miss the fact that God as a teacher may want to teach you how to be patient, while you are waiting for God to provide in a specific way. If you or a loved one is struggling with health related problems, God’s ability to heal might become an idol in your life and you could miss the plan God might want to accomplish through the sickness instead.
The second of the Ten Commandments say we shall not worship false gods. When we don’t allow God to reveal Himself to us as the God who He really is, we stand the danger of rejecting the true Him and making up a false god in our minds who we end up worshipping instead. When this happens, we start questioning God in a negative sense more than trusting in His goodness. This is a sure way to work against and eventually kill your faith, rather than allowing a proper understanding of who God is to develop and grow your faith instead.
Therefore, it is important for us to keep our hearts and minds open as to who the Great I Am really is, if we want to learn how to effectively walk by faith and not by sight. Whether we have to accomplish an assignment like Noah and build an ark or endure and overcome hardship like Job did when all ten of his children died in one day, understanding who God is, is key to dealing with the situation and to developing our faith in a God-pleasing way.
You are welcome to explore this site for more faith-building posts on the topic of hardship and faith. As you do, keep an open mind as to who God really is in light of the truth of His Word.