Facing Challenges with Faith, Hope, and Love
This year has been full of challenges. What an understatement! There are, it appears, more on the horizon.
Does this discourage us? Or shall we not square our shoulders and lean into the resources God uniquely gives those who belong to Him?
This week, I’ve sat with individuals both within the Christ Community family and outside of it. I’ve made a pile of phone calls. I also became aware through letters and cards of other substantial personal situations. Cancers, deaths, major surgeries, estranged family relationships, people under persecution, overwhelming COVID numbers…and the list goes on. What gives? Why the waves of onslaught? Is God on vacation, or is He humbling us toward greater dependency?
No group of people are better equipped to face whatever life in this troubled world brings than Christians. Come what may, we have 3 undefeatable resources. Paul put it like this—“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 ).
Why are these resources precisely what we need?
FACING CHALLENGES WITH FAITH
Faith trusts God’s purposefulness. It trusts Fatherly day-by-day care. It trusts what He allows into our individual lives for purposes that are good. Romans 8:28 could not be more clear. Our Father causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, who are called into His purpose of making us like His Son.
Faith keeps us from being rattled, from falling apart. Faith reminds us that if this life ends, God has promised that a better life begins in His presence, and for eternity.
Paul said it: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
Faith believes that whatever I face, I have grace from God to triumph in Christ.
FACING CHALLENGES WITH HOPE
Hope is confident in God’s promises. Hope realizes that what we are experiencing now, temporarily, is not what we will experience then, perpetually. Hope produces tenacity, a moment-by-moment tapping into God’s strength to put one foot ahead of another yet one more time. We’re on a journey, and we are heading somewhere where we belong. Step forward…again.
Losing his beloved wife to cancer, C.S. Lewis nonetheless concluded, “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death. I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same” (Mere Christianity).
Such hope creates alertness. Peter wrote to0 often persecuted believers, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and sober, set your hope fully on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” (1 Peter 1:13). Hope also equips for witness. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
One sign read, “HOPE. Hold On. Pain Ends.” Such is the sure promise of the God of Hope.
FACING CHALLENGES WITH LOVE
Love receives God’s strengthening resources and extends them to others. No one successfully makes it through challenges going solo. God never intended this. In challenges, love looks to meet need and gives. God is love, and those who know God love Him and love others.
My immense privilege has been to be married to someone who is wired to love others. Pamela cannot hear about a need without immediately wanting to do something about it. The only thing that makes her weep is when she cannot make a difference.
This is why the Lord Jesus decided to distribute the good news of His gospel through a unified, connected body of believers marked by love. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, as you love one another.” There isn’t a challenge we can’t face well when we love and connect with each other.
Someone needs to experience God’s love through you today, tomorrow, next week. Pick up the phone. Mask up and drop by. Pray for each other at the drop of a hat. Love!
FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE THIS SEASON
Dear church family! Let’s draw upon these resources, lavishly given to us by our heavenly Father. Trust Him (faith!). Anticipate Him (hope!). Demonstrate Him to others (love!).
This trinity of resources is exactly what we need for these challenging days. Wouldn’t you agree?