That question about what we believe has come into sharp focus in recent months because the answer impacts so much more of how we face each day’s challenges. Our belief points to where we place our faith as we face each day ahead and is central to our choices, our hope, our peace, and how we live these out – and never more so than when times are difficult.
I am drawn to how Eugene Peterson describes faith in The Message:
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”
Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG)
Reading a biography on Susannah Spurgeon has reminded me of the harsh realities of another time period during which she and Charles Spurgeon lived and ministered despite their own physical pain and emotional challenges.
Charles Spurgeon gives us a glimpse of his thoughts in this quote from The Cheque Book of the Book of Faith:
“The way of life is like travelling among the Alps. Along mountain paths one is constantly exposed to the slipping of the foot. Where the way is high the head is apt to swim, and then the feet soon slide; there are spots which are smooth as glass, and others that are rough with loose stones, and in either of these a fall is hard to avoid. He who throughout life is enabled to keep himself upright and to walk without stumbling has the best reasons for gratitude. What with pitfalls and snares, weak knees, weary feet, and subtle enemies, no child of God would stand fast for an hour were it not for the faithful love which will not suffer his foot to be moved.”
Charles Spurgeon resolutely looked forward through the eyes of faith toward the future despite the challenges he faced on so many sides. He could do that because he believed steadfastly in the promises of God. That belief held him fast.
And that place and position resonates in the lyrics written by Russell K. Carter of the old hymn “Standing on the Promises.” In the midst of the storms of life the second verse speaks clearly to where many find themselves today in their faith walk:
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
What do we believe?
The dictionary defines the word promise this way:
“A declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen”
The foundation of what we believe is found in our hearts. Though we read and study the scriptures, hear magnificent messages, see visions, or dream dreams, it will be what our heart affirms as true that settles our beliefs. And that will cause us to lean in with understanding of God’s deep and abiding love expressed in his covenant commitment between Him and his people in every place on this earth.
No biblical hero we read about led a perfect life of ease or a life without dysfunction of some kind, yet God chose them because of what they believed about Him even in the midst of failure and sometimes doubt or unbelief. In so doing, they grew in an unwavering assurance of God’s love for them no matter how many in this life might have betrayed or abandoned them, no matter what trials they might need to walk through.
“If we would but meet every affliction, be it small or great, with a brave confidence in our Lord’s mighty love to us, and an unquenchable faith in His power, our trials would either vanish altogether, or be transformed into triumphs which would bring honor to our King!”
Susannah Spurgeon in A Basket of Summer Fruit
The battle for our hearts will always be fierce, but God’s love is the fiercest of all and will prevail if we keep our focus on the Promise Keeper instead of the “news of the day” meant to strip us of hope for the future while offering little return for any loyalty we may give it.
We are called to be fierce hearted and Holley Gerth points to the goal:
“Let’s be unexpected warriors,
Love ninjas, secret agents of grace
In the kitchens and the boardrooms
and by the swings on the playground.
They’ll never see us coming.”
That is what belief in action looks like. We are his agents in the battle of the ages being fought within our hearts and in every neighborhood.
What do you believe?