Faith, what is Faith?
There are many who can sing the Doxology when all things go well with them in this world. They very readily say, “Thank God,” if they are delivered from trouble. And if they have bread in the pantry, and health in their bodies, and peace in their homes, and perhaps a balance at the bank – they can praise the Lord with cheerful voice, and say “He has always been so good to me I'll never doubt Him”. Now that may be gratitude, but it is not faith.
We would not despise any of God's mercies, and would indeed be grateful for all that He gives us richly to enjoy, but if I thank Him when the sun shines upon me, while it may be gratitude, it may also be sheer selfishness; a selfishness that rejoices in one's own freedom from trouble, and has scarcely a thought for the difficulties of others.
But faith is different; it says, “though the fig tree should not blossom,” which means, not that there will be a poor harvest, or a late harvest, but no harvest at all. “Though my hands are empty, and every earthly resource has failed, and every human prop has been removed, and the whole world is a wilderness, yet will I confidently rest in the Lord.” Faith can pass quietly through the storm; it does not look to any circumstance for help, but it takes hold upon God and finds Him to be greater than every circumstance. Faith can wait, and wait until God moves. It is distrust that is impatient and restless, and would take things out of God's hands, and seize upon the desired object prematurely. Look at Abraham and Sarah, distrustful and impatient, making a sad mess of things in the matter of Hagar; they could not wait for God. Look at Jacob and Rebecca, scheming, shamming, lying, deceiving; they could not wait for God. Look at Moses smiting the rock and speaking unadvisedly with his lips; he could not wait for God. Look at every man, good and bad, whose history God has given us. Most, if not all of them, broke down just here; Satan stampeded them at least once into action when faith would have been quiet and waited for God.
Look now at the lowly Man of Nazareth; hear Him when hungry in the wilderness, disclaiming all resources but God, in the face of the Tempter who had grown bold with 4,000 years of success. Hear Him say, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” And trace His way from thence through every circumstance of trial and sorrow, right on, until at last He lay in a sealed tomb. He never moved on His own behalf. His only concern was the glory of God. How astonished His disciples were that He did not save Himself. When Peter drew his sword and smote the high priest's slave, was there not impatience with the meekness of His Master in that action as well as indignation at His foes? But where is Jesus now? Crowned with glory and honor in the Father's throne. He committed His way to God, and God heard His prayer, and exalted him when the time came. He is the beginner and the finisher of faith, and in Him was no failure, no impatience, no haste, no discontent, but always perfect peace, because always perfect trust. And He is our pattern; not Abraham, nor Moses, but Jesus. And His peace He gives to us as we follow in His steps and rely wholly upon the Father's love that can never make a mistake.
Then the time comes when faith sings; the circumstances that have tested and tried it have only served to tighten the strings, and give it tone and tune, then it breaks forth into melody and cries triumphantly; “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord is my strength, and He will make my feet like hind's feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.” This is faith, “and without faith it is impossible to please God.”