In a recent Instagram post, I reflected on God’s faithfulness in redeeming the difficult cross-country move my family made from Indiana to North Carolina when I was sixteen years old. Where I felt like all was torn away in that move, the Lord showed that He takes away only to give something better: Himself. And that’s what my season in North Carolina was – receiving something – Someone – better than this earth can supply, though He often used the beautiful friendships, sunsets, and memories that line the miles of I-85 to do that. I felt more prepared for yet another cross-country move last year from North Carolina to Ohio – this one much more welcomed than the first as it meant marriage, a local church body to build into, and my immediate family reunited altogether – unbelievably (a story for another day).
As the posts suggests, while my mom and I walked the snowy streets of Cleveland, I reflected on all of this, and I felt the redemption come full circle, a sense of finish to a work started; a path was made in the wilderness, a stream in the desert, the years abundantly restored that I thought back in 2010 the locust would surely eat (Isaiah 43:18-19, Joel 2:25). I could see the purpose I couldn’t see before, and all I could think was: God is faithful!
And He is. And that moment is a beautiful and right display of His faithfulness for me to cling to and proclaim in this life. But can I say the same tonight when I am fighting discouragement, discontentment, loneliness? Can I say with as much assurance, “God is faithful!” – even when things don’t “feel” good and right? Can we say “God is faithful!” if things don’t go as planned? If the career is going nowhere. If friends seem nonexistent. If the college applications flop. If the pregnancy test comes back negative again. If there are no eligible singles on the horizon. If the family seems to only grow more and more dysfunctional. If the child always talks back. If the doctors can’t seem to find a diagnosis. Is God faithful?
The short answer: yes. It’s a false theology to say he is not faithful in the bad. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” It’s a good that God defines, not us; it’s a good that is an eternally good, not necessarily an obvious earthly good.
I was recently reminded of this while reading the story of Jonah. In the popular story, Jonah runs the other way from where God commanded him to go, causing a vigorous storm to descend upon Jonah and the crew of his escape boat. Desperate for the storm to end, the crew – who spoke to Jonah about “your god (1:6),” revealing their unbelief – cries out to the one, true God and obey His command to throw Jonah overboard, upon which the storm ceases. And then what happens? “Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows” (1:16). These men came to know and rightly fear the living God!
For the first time, it clicked for me: though Jonah disobeyed, God redeemed the bad with the good of these men coming to know him! These men may not have been saved any other way, but God saw fit to work his will through Jonah’s disobedience. God is still faithful – even in the hard and not right.
And we see this truth throughout Scripture:
- Abraham called to sacrifice his long-awaited son, only to have him rescued in the nick of time
- Moses exiled from Egypt only to return to lead his people out of exile
- Ruth made a young widow and stranger in a foreign land, only to marry Boaz and be a part of the line of Jesus
- Paul losing his impressive resume as a Pharisee only to become one of the most influential figures in Christianity.
These stories and many others tell of trials leading to eternal good that reveal God’s faithfulness and display his all-knowing glory. The ultimate example though is the life of our Suffering Savior. Jesus was sent to this broken earth in the form of a broken man for his body and spirit to be broken on the cross: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities…” (Isaiah 53:4-5). But God is faithful and redeemed even this tragedy for “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and by his wounds we are healed” (v. 5, emphasis added). Jesus set his sight on this joy that was before him, beyond the cross, where he now is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
So, my fellow traveler, let us take heart. God remains faithful in all our abundance and in all our wanting. If we cannot see the faithful good yet, may we have faith to firmly believe in what we cannot yet see, and may we be able to say with Joseph ““…but God intended it all for good” (Genesis 50:20, emphasis added). God is faithful.
“The colorfully, dazzling bloom is only one part of anyone’s story. Blooms are not the only way to see God’s faithfulness…. You don’t have to be blooming to be growing, so don’t give up… Blooms will come because He’s faithful to finish what He begins in us (Phil. 1:6). But even if you don’t see it today, take heart. Your land of affliction is the very ground the Lord is using for your good and His glory.” – Ruth Chou Simons, GraceLaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart
This blog post was brought to my attention as I considered these thoughts. It pushed me over the edge of conviction of the false theology I was building of God’s faithfulness. You’ll find echoes of her thoughts in mine: http://edhyndman.com/god-is-faithful-always/