Today’s question comes from Stevie. She wrote: “What would you say is the most important thing your faith in God does for you?”
The easiest way for me to answer that question is to say that my faith in God gives me H-O-P-E! HOPE! HOPE! HOPE! (I say, channeling my inner cheerleader).
I know that can sound a little cheesy, or like a bad cliché. For me, however, it’s not. Here’s why I say that.
You see, the thing I treasure most about my Christian faith is that it pulls no punches. It has never suggested to me – even for one second – that my life would be easy because I was a person of faith. On the contrary! My Christian faith told me from an early age that life would be FULL of challenges, trials, and hardships. That was the case with Jesus. That is the case for those who follow Jesus. My Christian faith even told me that my decision to be a follower of Jesus would – at times – add to the challenges I face (i.e. taking prophetic stands I feel compelled to take in Jesus’ name), not subtract from them!
“If that’s the case, then why be a believer?” you might wonder.
Here’s where my faith gets especially helpful.
You see Jesus’ story tells me in very powerful ways that pain and suffering are never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever the end of the story. If you hang in there long enough, expressions of new life – resurrection life! – will make themselves known. That’s certainly been the case for me for my 48 years on the planet.
That’s one reason why I as a pastor can spend a good chunk of my days around people who are in excruciating pain – as they live through illness, death, broken relationships, and financial hardships. I feel so blessed to walk with folks in these places and help give them a sense of God’s abiding presence. I can also help them see that while the way forward may not be clear in any given moment, if we hang in there – a way forward will make itself known.
That’s why I can be so freakishly upbeat and optimistic on most days.
I do want to say one thing about the hope that my faith brings me. I have faced days of deep and dark depression on my journey. Days when I personally could not only NOT see the road forward, but days when I didn’t believe there WAS a road forward.
Thankfully, my faith connected me to the One who is much greater than I – and has such a great sense of perspective. That connection to God is what pulls me through those dark places, and brought me back to the Light.
So how about you? What is it that your faith in God does for you?