Philosophy Lite: Building a faith for tough times
By Raymond Smith
In times like these, many Americans are starting to think about laying aside some money rather than spending for things they don't really need. One of Aesop's Fables told about the grasshopper and the ant. While the grasshopper fiddled away time during the summer, the ant was busy storing up for the winter. When winter came, the grasshopper was starving, while the ant had plenty of provisions on hand.
The same idea applies to our faith. If we have been negligent in developing a strong relationship with our Lord and Savior, we may find our faith shaken in the time of calamity. I have known some who have had serious health and family issues who confessed they felt God had abandoned them, but in talking to them, I felt they probably never had a strong personal relationship with the Lord. The scriptures tell us, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." (Proverbs 24:10)
Before I start sounding judgmental, I must confess that my faith has never been tested. I sympathize with those who are experiencing painful illnesses, deaths of loved ones and financial loss and wonder how I might react under similar situations.
The book of Job describes a similar situation in which Job lost everything. True, he was most unhappy, and he questioned why God would allow such a thing to happen to him, but he never lost his abiding trust in God.
We live in a broken world. Bad things do happen to good people. We cannot know the answer for sure why these things happen, but the testimony of many is that after the ordeal they came through it a better person and with greater understanding.
How do we store up a faith that will carry us through difficult times? Simply by making our No. 1 priority living a spiritual life. By learning to trust God in the smallest of matters. By being thankful for all the blessings we have and continue to receive. By appreciating the wonders and beauty of God's creation. By living in the present day Kingdom of God. And by keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.
Another important consideration is our choice of friends. It is our nature to join in with those who act and talk in worldly ways. This is one of the main reasons Christ instituted His church, so that we could have fellowship with those of a mind that would inspire us, not drag us down. Of special importance is the act of keeping the mind centered on spiritual matters. And, of course, Bible study, prayer and regular worship.
While some might think that this lifestyle could put a damper on one's happiness, the exact opposite is true - real happiness and security come from facing squarely the most important issues of this life and of the life to come. The entire Chapter 8 of the book of Romans is a great encouragement.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.