Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ~ Hebrews 11:1, KJV.
As a child, I used to hope for all kinds of things, especially at Christmas or my birthday. Sometimes books or board games or tea party sets. But what I hoped for most were dolls.
When I would go shopping downtown with my mother, I always sweet-talked her into visiting the toy department where beautiful dolls were displayed. Perched on wall shelves and inside sparkling glass cases were Shirley Temple dolls with different outfits and hats. Jenny dolls dressed in tutus and ballet slippers. Betsy-wetsy dolls with bottles, blankets, and diapers. Dolls dressed in bridal dresses with veils and high heels. And Barbie dolls with her dream home, sports car, and wardrobe along with must-haves Ken and Midge.
I had complete faith in my parents that they would fulfill my childhood wishes on those special days. Looking back, I can’t ever remember being disappointed.
I had put my faith in God at a young age. But childhood turned into teen years and then adulthood. As the season of dating began at sweet sixteen, I had faith that my life would continue as it always had, with few disappointments. I would meet a wonderful man someday, and by the time I graduated from college, a wedding would follow, and I would live happily ever after.
But those dreams didn’t come true for me. Instead, I lived through two heartbreaking divorces. Although I’ve been single for twenty-two years, I have two precious daughters whom I wouldn’t trade for the world. They are part of my dreams that DID come true.
Have you lived through disappointment at times in your life? Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, as it did for me. But instead of throwing away my faith and agreeing with the expression, Happily ever after? That fairy tale? —I hold onto my dreams and continue to hope. Trusting the Lord for a good future where my dreams will still come true have prevented me from falling into an attitude of bitterness, depression, and despair.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NASB.
I can hear some laughter across the virtual meadows–sounds way too Pollyanna-ish?
Let’s consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her dream of a wedding and a happily-ever-after life with her betrothed, Joseph, took a different turn. In fact, as a respected young woman in Nazareth, her entire life turned upside-down when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, announcing that she had been chosen by God to carry and give birth to His Son. She believed the message of the angel and rejoiced that God was trusting her for the sacred role of bringing the Savior into the world.
On the other hand, think of the difficulties confronting her. In those days, a woman was stoned to death if she were pregnant without a husband.
After Joseph had found out the news, he wanted to rid himself of his obligation to Mary without doing her harm. He believed she was guilty of adultery (well, wouldn’t you?) until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, reassuring him that Mary’s word was true.
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit ~ Matthew 1:20, NASB.
So, out of faith, this couple began their adventure. You’d think it would have been an easy road, seeing as how they were to be the parents of the Son of God, but just the opposite occurred.
- Right before the baby was due, they had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. Mary had to leave her family and ride uncomfortably all the way on a donkey.
- Upon arrival, Mary went into labor.
- The town had no rooms available where they could stay, so a barn full of animals became Jesus’s delivery room.
- Months later, the Lord warned Joseph in a dream that Herod was searching for the Child to kill Him. The family arose that night and fled to Egypt.
- Years later after Herod died, the family again uprooted to resettle in Nazareth.
Mary and Joseph had to boldly live out their faith, but rumors swirled about the true parentage of Jesus. What did the people of Nazareth think of Him, even after He had begun His ministry and was working great miracles?
And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief ~ Matthew 13:57, NASB.
It’s hard to imagine the Son of God growing up in the shadow of wagging tongues and disbelief in the midst of those amazing miracles—and ultimately, His crucifixion and death, based on jealousy, betrayal, and lies.
But through it all, Mary chose faith. She believed God’s word to her from the first proclamation uttered by Gabriel. No matter the trials she had to endure, she clung to hope, trusting God no matter the circumstances—even watching her Son suffer and die on a cross.
God didn’t disappoint her. Fifty days after Jesus’s resurrection and ascension, she received the baptism of the Holy Spirit along with others waiting in the Upper Room.
As we walk down our individual paths of life, we must cling to hope and live by our faith, in spite of the hardships thrown at us along the way. Sometimes God doesn’t permit us to fully understand, but He expects us to be obedient and trust Him. With His strength, we can endure through it all.
And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing ~ James 1:4, NASB.
How important is our faith in God?
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him ~ Hebrews 11:6, NASB.
I will say YES to trusting God. I will place all my faith in Him today and every day.