Everyone has stress. Have you ever had one or two unexpected things pop up that lead to a day or days of stress or inconvenience? Maybe: your car broke down? your hot water heater stopped working? an unexpected financial issue? With the “extras” piled on, you just want things to get back to “normal.”
There is an old Yiddish blessing that says:
זאל איר זיין ברוך מיט פילע דאגות/zal ir zeyn brukh mit file dagus.
“May you be blessed with many worries.”
At first glance this sounds terrible, but there is wisdom here. To have “many worries” was to be living a normal life with regular, daily cares. In other words, your life had not been overwhelmed by one terrible concern – a death, or serious illness as examples.
Messiah Yeshia/Jesus tells His followers to “not worry” about tomorrow because today has enough worry of it’s own (Matt. 6:34). He is not diminishing the significance of our daily concerns, rather, He is redirecting our focus.
Today will have its troubles, but trust in the One who made today; and be grateful for the normal day:
There are days when I feel that I don’t quite have this faith thing figured out; and yes, the wording is deliberate. As we are often prone to do, we look to the right, and to the left; to what he, she, or they are doing better that we, etc.
Perhaps you don’t have this type of experience, but I often feel like others have figured out something that I have yet to stumbled upon, as they seem to have the look of faithfulness.
It begs the question, what does faith look like?
In Hebrews we read:
“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:33-39).
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:1-3, 6).
We often evaluate the effectiveness of faith by outward appearances of good things, ignoring or not recognizing the negative. We assume that the absence of apparent struggle means better life, and therefore better faith, read Hebrews 10:33-34 above closely again.
I do not, however, find that appearances make an accurate barometer of what faith looks like.
The author of Hebrews reminded his audience of the trials they experienced after they came to faith in Messiah. They endured reproaches and tribulations, and often joined with others in their challenges.
He reminds them of the first things of faith, which often run contrary to public opinion and accepted intellectual ideas. He reminds them of others who have come before (Heb. 11); and finally, he explains that faith, the hoped for evidence of the things not yet seen, is the only way to please the Lord God.
He reminded them of where, and from whom they had come.
Yet, what if my experience of faith looks different than that of others? What if my life is altogether fine? Or, I seem to face trouble at every turn? What if I fall somewhere between?
I would say there is no perfect picture of what the life of faith looks like: save for Yeshua/Jesus himself. See, faith is lived within the framework of life, and life is a place of both challenges and joys, victory and setback.
In life we need endurance. The author of Hebrews reminds us that in faith we need endurance (Heb. 10:36). Endurance in faith grows as faith is exercised in every circumstance life offers, until that day, when He graduates us to glory.
Read Paul’s testimony:
“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:23-28).
If we were to measure the fruit of Paul’s faith from his own testimony, according to the expectations often applied today, he would be found wanting; but Paul was able to testify that he had run and finished the race, he had kept the faith (II Tim. 4:6-8).
See friends, faith endures because it is coupled with the hope that keeps us going when giving up would be easier: hope takes hold, and faith holds on.
Faith is not about how we feel in it, but Who we have trusted in: Messiah. He is, and must remain the object of our faithing.
So do not measure your life, or faith according to the standards of this world, or those well meaning saints who make you feel less than. Look to the examples provided in Scripture, with their ups and downs (I Cor. 11:1), remembering that your faith is in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, and in Him, our every need is met (Phil. 4:19). As He said: “follow Me.”
If you haven’t figured this “faith thing” out, don’t worry, as we follow Him, we learn it from Him (Matt. 11:28-30).
Many of us remember the days when our parents would call us in from playing outside, play that usually began in early morning and went all day. At times it may take a shout or two for us to hear, but we would eventually respond; and when we finally did return home, undoubtedly we would hear, “You come when I call you.”
In Matthew 11:28-30 we read, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Today I suppose those neighborhood shouts have been exchanged for text messages, if kids do in fact still play outside. Nevertheless, Yeshua/Jesus isn’t texting us, He is calling us, beckoning us to Himself. We often interpret His call as an invitation, but it really is a parental demand, “Come to Me…”
When we consider this text, we note that Yeshua is calling those who labor, physically or emotionally, and those who are heavy with cares. The reward for obedience to His call is: rest.
He directs us to take His “yoke” upon ourselves, as in the yoke of oxen, and He will bear the load of our labor. He then directs us to “learn” from Him, learn how to walk in faith, humble in heart and gentle in spirit, it is a call by Yeshua for us to learn how to trust in the Him.
Dr. J. Rodman Williams explains of this calling, “On one occasion Jesus declared, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden…I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” Jesus was One who would “not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick.” He was gentle with broken spirits, with weary and torn people, with all who cried out for help. In relation to the Thessalonians Paul writes, “We were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children.”
As children we often considered the calling of our parents to be spoiling our fun, when in reality it was a means of care and ultimately a source of comfort. They would feed us, tend to us, and ultimately keep us safe.
This is exactly why Yeshua is calling us. He is asking us to not attempt to “figure” it all out on our own, but to turn to Him in prayer, in faith, and He will give us comfort and rest.
Here is my final thought to you: after you have prayed, be sure to listen for the sound of HIs voice echoing in your life, directing your steps in the way He has ordained, doing so is an obedient response to “coming when called.”