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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Faith Without Trial is No Faith at All

Here is a little exercise to try. Imagine if you will that one day God simply revealed himself to us all. All of our doubts, fears, questions about life and the future would suddenly be laid to rest. We might imagine in the wake of such a revelation that war, pestilence, crime—every social ill would cease, once we knew that there was a God and that we were in fact accountable for how we lived our lives. Pretty fantastic imagination, you say. But bear with me a little bit to see where this is going.

For a while I suspect life on the planet Earth would be amazing. Without the fear of death hanging over us, or worries about money, food, shelter or any other material benefit erased in an instant, life should be idyllic, shouldn’t it? I suppose so. But how long do you think it would be before we got downright bored, maybe just a little bit huffy about having a supreme being in charge?

Remember the Hebrews wandering around in the Sinai for 40 years—they had plenty to eat but a steady diet of Mana didn’t exactly agree with them. And even though God had told them they were his chosen and that he would look after him, they still found his laws and rules chafing. So they decided they would rather worship some other thing and they had themselves a good old Bacchanal.

Now we are so much smarter and more sophisticated. We have learned a lot in the thousands of years since Moses went up to the Mount. I imagine we would not turn away quite so abruptly. Perhaps we would just begin to take God for granted.

It would be subtle at first. It might begin with us taking just a little too much credit for what happens in our lives—forgetting for a moment that everything we have and are came from him. We are well rehearsed in that belief after all. Who knows where things might go from there—maybe to the point of believing that we really are doing just fine and were better off without this meddlesome God fixing things. That is the kind of human perversity we practice all the time—only we get to place the blame on God for all the bad things we do while we take credit for the good.

So maybe I am being cynical –all right that could be. Maybe we wouldn’t revert to our human weakness. So if not, then what is God waiting for—why keep us in suspense? What does he know that we don’t?

Well for one thing what God does not want from us is slavish devotion—if he wanted that all he has to do is just manifest and we’d be all over it. Instead, he wants a relationship—yes you heard that right, he wants to have a relationship with us. A relationship—you mean just like two people in love? Exactly.

Think about it. When two people love one another—truly love without selfishness or ego, with patience, trust, and without condition they love each other as God loves us. All he is asking is for us to love him that way as well. But that is just not possible if we only see God as a being who holds the power of life and death over us—at least life and death as we know it. That is a master and his follower, not equality. So instead, God stands off a little way—and he asks us to accept him—to believe in him, to have faith in his love for us. He doesn’t overwhelm us with his majesty and power, he courts us and asks us to give him a chance to provide all that we ask for. Doesn’t that sound like a lover?

Sometimes we see this standoffish-ness as a challenge, and the things we go through on our own as a trial. That’s because we have no faith. Because we do not believe in his love we feel alone, rejected, and put upon. But that is inside us—it isn’t coming from him at all. You see faith in the face of adversity, is real faith. It says, I love you God even though I am facing a trial—I love you because I know you love me and will see me through this present challenge. And someday, I will look back at this and see what you were doing—that all along what you had in mind for me was so much greater than anything I could imagine. That’s real faith and real love.

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