Resting in God’s Faithfulness: Faith for Fear
In an earlier post, I shared how God had helped me identify six idols in my life – those things I put my trust in either in addition to Him or instead of Him. After a 40-day examination of my attitudes toward them, I realized they were borne out of fear—fear of losing those things I depended on for security. During that time God provided me a new perspective more closely aligned with His desire for my abundant life and which helped me to stay in his place of peace and rest.
A year later, I still kept God’s word to me on my desk:
“I alone will be your provider and protector.
- Not your husband (although I may work through him)
- Not your boss (although I may use her)
- Not your employer…
- Not your parents…
- Not your pastors…
- Not your bank account/investments
If you listen, obey and follow me, all these things will take care of themselves. If you will look to me and trust in me alone, I will prepare you for everything ahead.”
The Year in Review
As I looked back over this list a year later, I realized five of the six had been shaken in that year like never before. My healthy husband of 20 years suddenly found himself in surgery. I had lost my job with my employer of 24 years. I was unemployed for a year and faced with unexpected medical expenses and an unforeseen disaster to our house. Cancer had returned in my dad’s colon, and he was back in chemotherapy.
In hindsight a year later, my first thought was, “Thank you, Lord, for preparing me ahead of time, showing me a new perspective of your provision and abundance!” My second thought was, “Maybe my newfound perspective was being challenged. If so, how did I do in depending on God as each of these previous sources of security was threatened?”
As I pondered each one, remembering my reactions, actions and God’s responses, I was reminded of how faithful God was in each circumstance.
- Because of a merger, I was laid off, but provided extended severance and insurance coverage because the merger was delayed.
- Consequently the insurance covered my husband’s surgery and the severance paid for the repairs to the house.
- Because I was unemployed, I could care for my husband and manage the house repairs, which I’d never have been able to do while working.
- Because I was unemployed, I was able to spend more time with my dad, including spending whole days with him for his chemotherapy treatments.
I found myself thanking God that I didn’t have a job! Yet, through that year, He provided for us financially to the point that we never needed to tap our savings or investments. He had “prepared us for everything ahead,” just as He had promised me.
God’s Year of Favor
This moment that had started with me examining how my new understanding withstood real life, now ended with my recognizing an undeniable demonstration of God’s faithfulness in blessings and provisions. God was not testing me, He was demolishing the fear that fueled my idols by building my faith and showing me first-hand how He more than provides everything I fear losing. This wasn’t a year of testing; it was a year of God’s favor.
I was reminded of Abraham’s “test” in sacrificing Isaac. God had provided Abraham with a son in order to fulfill God’s promises to him. However, God was reassuring Abraham that Isaac was not the source of the blessings or the source of the fulfilled promises. God provided Isaac, and God provided the ram to be sacrificed. It wasn’t so much a test for Abraham as it was God’s demonstration that no matter what happened to Isaac, God would be faithful in His covenant with Abraham. He didn’t need to fear that losing Isaac would mean losing the promises. (Other texts tell us that Sarah actually died worrying that she would lose Isaac.) God was removing the fear, or possibly misplaced hope, in Isaac and reestablishing Himself as the only Source.
I learned that when I’m tempted to wonder if I’m being tested, to ask instead, “How is God demonstrating His faithfulness?” If I will let Him, God replaces my fear with faith, and He does it with more blessing and provisions than I can imagine. If I’m willing, I can stay in that place of peace and rest, trusting in his faithfulness every day.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we are unafraid, even if the earth gives way, even if the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea, even if its waters rage and foam, and mountains shake at its turbulence. Psalm 46:1-3
In my next post, see how God took this understanding to another level during the Sabbath year.