“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” ~ Matthew 27:54
There are dark nights in life. These are times in which we find ourselves standing face to face with pain, loss, rejection, disaster, failure, or humiliation. And in the worst cases, the dark night seems to have no end in sight, makes us wish it would all be over or we could sleep at night and wake up in the morning to find that it was all just a bad dream. Yet we know it is all real and not a dream at all, because it is the sort of thing that keeps you up at night. The dark night comes for everyone, but for God’s people, for those of us who live by faith in Jesus, these night can be darker still, accompanied by a cold chill. This is because such nights plague us with questions about God’s concern for us, wandering thoughts about whether God is truly with us, whether God truly cares for us, and whether God is as powerful or as good as he says he was is. The capacity of our faith to withstand such an assault depends on what kind of faith we have.
If our faith is a one-dimensional faith, then our faith flounders during those dark winters. A one-dimensional faith is one that only trusts God to prove that he is real and loving by ending the painful darkness at our request. It is a faith that only trusts God to do for us what he did for Elijah on Mount Carmel. There was Elijah, a man hunted by the state, wanted dead or alive, a fugitive on the run. Then God tells him to stop hiding and face his pursuers. So he goes directly to the King’s palace and demands an audience, then tells him to gather all the false prophets of his false religion on Mount Carmel to challenge them in a context to prove whose god is real. The prophets of Baal call on their god to rain fire from heaven supernaturally, and nothing happens. But when Elijah calls on God, a bowl of fire falls in front of all Israel.
But there are many dark nights on which the trust God calls us to put in him is not this kind of trust. Instead, he may call you to put a trust in him like the one Jesus put in God on his darkest night. There was Jesus, a man hunted by the state, wanted dead or alive. Then he comes face to face with his pursuers, and they bring him to the palace of the King and other leaders, who determine that he should be taken atop Mount Calvary to be crucified. And as he hangs, in excruciating pain, those who have gathered mock him and challenge him to come down from the cross to prove that God is real. They demand that Jesus should exercise a faith like Elijah’s, a faith that trusts God to prove that he is real by rescuing us from our pain. But Jesus does not get rescued. He dies, and the hopes, dreams, and prayers of his friends and family go unanswered. And yet in the midst of that darkness, in the midst of putting Jesus through a pain he would not be delivered from, God was making him the Savior of mankind and putting his sonship to God on display.
We often think faith is valuable because of what we receive from God after we trust him. But faith is most valuable because of what we become before God while we trust him.
by Sean Kampondeni