Covenant of Trust
It is not uncommon among us Christians to experience a degree of tension
between our faith and the reality of life we are facing.
There is a constant need of reconciliation between what we believe in our hearts, what God is teaching us in His Word, the promises He gave us, the victories He won for us, the truths He spoke over us and the reality of being humans who think, feel, suffer, get sick, experience loss, disappointment, get discouraged, frustrated or simply tired.
What we believe in our hearts and what we see with our minds, spiritual vs physical, both are VERY real! And the greater the discrepancy between the two, the greater tension we experience.
Bible recognizes this tension as well and calls us to walk by faith and not by our sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). As good Christians we are eager to embrace this command. But what does “walking by faith” looks like in real life? We may not give this question much thought when our lives go as they should. There are seasons in our lives, however, when the answer to this question becomes especially relevant. Over the past several years, as I have been working through some unaddressed trauma in my past, I found myself wrestling with many questions of faith.
I know that I have faith but What do I know about faith? What is faith?
So… what is faith? What do we know about it? The Bible teaches us that our entire relationship with God and ultimately our salvation depends on our faith. First place that come to my mind when I think about faith is Hebrews Chapter 11. So that is where I started.
In Hebrews 11 Bible gives us the definition of faith:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
In the same chapter we read that
“without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
So what IS faith??
Is it knowing that God exists? Israel never really doubted the existence of God, but still the Bible is full of stories of Israel worshiping other gods.
Does faith include doubt? I know that sometimes I doubt. Does that mean I don’t have faith?
Does faith include fear? Have you ever been sacred for your children? Have you ever been looking with fear into your future? I have. Does that mean that I don’t have faith? Does that mean I don’t have enough of it?
Is faith always straight forward? Is always clear? I know that there are times when I feel that God is speaking to me but then I had to stop and think: Is that you God?
Can we even quantify faith? Jesus tells us that with just a little bit of faith we can move mountains…. But why then there are still mountains in my life right now that I cannot move?
What IS faith?
How do we grasp its concept with our Human mind?
That is how I embarked on a journey to figure out what faith is.
Being a Christian for many years I know that our salvation is rooted in our faith in Jesus and what He has done on the cross for us. By our faith in Christ we walk under a New Covenant of His blood. But what was the basis of our relationship with God before Christ? We know that from the very beginning God chose to define His relationship with the man through covenants. Those were a special agreement between God and man, special instruction given by God to man that established who is who. And we have the first five books of the Bible that deal specifically with those covenants and go into a great deal of detail about them so I decided to start my journey from there.
Adam and Eve
In the very beginning, when God created Adam and Even, prior to their fall, God entered with them into the covenant. This covenant sometimes is called “covenant of works”.
God gave them everything. He put them in the beautiful garden, He told them: Here! This beautiful place is your home and I will take care of all your needs, you will have food to eat and you will have water to drink. I created ALL of this for you!
Adam and Eve had it ALL. But even beyond that, they had the most precious thing in the world – they had God’s presence. God was walking with them in the garden, He was talking with them, they even named animal together…. And the only thing that God required of Adam and Eve was to have faith! He needed them to trust Him and not to eat from the tree. I can just imagine God saying to them: Look, I love you, I want to be with you, I will take care of you and will give you all that you need. But TRUST me – you cannot eat from that tree. And we all know what happened after that.
God promised Abraham to bless Him and to bless all the nations through Him and all that God required of Abraham was to have faith in what God told him to do. God wanted Abraham to trust Him and to leave his own family and all that he had behind and to go to a new land. He had to trust God that He would take care of him and He would do what He had promised. There were no guarantees. I bet Abraham was a just a little bit scared. I know I would be.
And when people continued to fail God said ok…. I have a plan of redemption, I can’t tell you about it yet. You are separated from me right now by sin, and there is nothing good in you and you cannot change that. But I have a plan. But here is the law, and this law – if you obey it – will help you to live your life according to my moral principles until the time comes when I will write this law in your hearts. You just need to take me at my word and trust me. Trust me, that this Law and these rules are what you need right now. You don’t understand why, but it’s ok. But if you follow these rules, you will be blessed.
When I carefully read through all these passages and also the chapters around them I could not help but notice that all of these covenants although a bit different have one thing in common – FAITH. God always required of His people faith. It was always the basis of our relationship with Him. When I read these passages I also notice that the word faith does not really appear there, but instead, God is calling on His people to obey Him, to obey His voice, to follow His directions, to keep His laws. I also noticed that he does not really explain why we should should obey Him. All he says is that if you trust me and do what I require of you, I will be your God and you will be my people. And you will be blessed. Bible never explains us WHY we need to trust God or why we need to obey Him.
When we place our faith in Jesus and ask Him to come into our lives as our Lord and Savior we also enter into covenant with God. We are no longer required to bring animal sacrifices, we are no longer required to follow any ceremonial rituals or rules, but we still are required to have faith. But is that the same kind of faith that Bible is talking about in the passages that we just read??????
My Journey of Faith
When people ask me when I received Christ into my life I always feel a bit uneasy because I don’t really know.
Did it happen when I first prayed the prayer and asked Jesus to become my personal God and Savior? I know that I was 13 then. And I started attending a church planted in Belarus by North American missionaries. I heard about Jesus before but more like of a fairy tale, myth. But that was the first time when I learned that Jesus could be my savior. But did I really understand what it mean? I was a very hurt child and I was so desperate for someone to love me that every single time the pastor of this church asked if anyone would like to accept Jesus in to their hearts, to become a child of God, to be born again, I would raise my hand and pray the prayer because I really wanted all those things, even though I didn’t quite understand what they meant. I prayed the prayer of salvation many many times before somebody explained to me that I didn’t have to keep doing that.
Sometimes people refer to the covenant that we have with God under The New Testament as The Covenant of Grace.
Because God offered us redemption free of charge. We were not worthy but He still loved us and He still sent His Son on the cross to die for our sins. He loved us before we loved Him.
When I look back at that day (or one of those days should I say) when I prayed to Christ and invited Him into my life, for me it was truly His Grace that saved me.
It was truly the covenant of Grace because I had nothing to offer to God. I didn’t understand the concept of salvation and I knew very little about God, but I was willing to take the first step and to say yes to Him. And by His grace God embraced me into His family and into His kingdom. But was it the faith that we just read about? Was it the faith of Abraham, Moses and David? Is faith just acknowledging that God exists?
But there was another moment in my life that I will never forget and I actually know the exact day and exact time of it, it was the moment when something changed in my relationship with God. And this moment came many years later.
If you read my About Page you probably already know that I was born and raised in a small country called Belarus which at that time was one of the republics of former Soviet Union.
I came to Canada 19 years ago to work as a Russian interpreter for a law firm. To be able to move to North America was a very rare opportunity that not very many people from my country had at that time. Those who new me, thought that I was very lucky. What they didn’t know was that I wasn’t just moving to Canada. I was running away. I was running away from physical and emotional abuse that I endured for many years from my father and my alcoholic brother; the abuse that no one else knew about, the abuse that I did not want anyone to see because I was ashamed of it. I didn’t care much about an easier life in Canada, I didn’t want a bigger house or more money, I just needed to leave my past behind me and get away.
I was 20 years old. I had a suitcase and a $100 in my pocket and I was determined to start a new life.
And I worked so hard to build my new life in Canada. It was not easy but I did well.
By the time I was 22 I had a good job, I was married to a wonderful man, we just moved into a lovely little house and we were expecting our first child.
It was summer of 2002. I was seven and a half months pregnant and we knew that we were having a girl. We had only a few months left before my due date and we were working hard getting everything ready for the baby’s arrival. The baby room was almost ready. We painted it light blue with a pink top border. And I remember every time I came into the room and looked at the crib that was there, I would put my hand on my belly and fill my little girl kicking and I would take a deep breath and smile and thank God for my life. I was happy. I was so so happy. For the first time in my life I had someone to love me, and to take care of me. For the first time in my life I was not constantly yelled and called names, for the first time in my life my body was not hurting from bruises. I was happy.
It was a hot Monday evening of July 8th. My husband and I were driving back home from the grocery store. I was on the passenger seat of our car. I remember I was looking down on something on my lap, when I felt a huge impact. I didn’t understand what exactly was going on but our car started spinning and rolling and it was loud and confusing and scary. As I later found out, we were making a left turn when our car was struck by another vehicle that was involved into illegal street racing. It was a high-speed impact that caused our car to spin in the air several times before hitting a utility pole and landing on the ground on top of the other car. Both, me and my husband were trapped under the car.
We were rushed to the hospital and I underwent an emergency C-section. I remember waking up after the anesthesia and the first thing that I saw was a nurse sitting by my bedside. She didn’t have to say anything. There was such a profound sadness and sorrow in her eyes that I knew that my babe was gone. I know we lost her.
And I remember an excruciating pain filing my entire body at that moment and at that moment I heard almost an audible voice saying “Just don’t as why? No matter what, don’t ask why?” And I truly believe that was the first time I actually heard God speaking to me. “Don’t ask why”.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the question why. There are times when God wants us to ask Him questions.
Sometimes God is using our life circumstances to create in us that clean heart just as David writing in his Psalm. And those are the times when we need to allow God to do that, to allow Him to mold our personalities, to strip us off all those things that are not pleasing to Him.
There are also times when there is no sin and God simply uses our circumstances to redirect our path. But in both of those situations we kind of know what God is doing. Ok God. Yes, I know I made the wrong turn, I disobeyed you, but you love me and that is why you corrected my path and redirected me. Thank you God.
But once in a while we all face certain situations in our lives when there are simply no answers and no explanations. Those are the situations when we ask and search and examine our heart and still don’t understand why. And those are the times when we simply trust, when we choose not to question His providence, not to question His ability to turn even the ugliest tragedy as this car accident, that horrific attempt of the enemy to destroy our lives, into the testimony of His glory and goodness.
Oh how badly I wanted to ask God why!!! Why me? Didn’t I endure enough during my childhood? Did you allow me to build my new life just for my heart to be broken like that? And I am sure you have your own questions – some of you are asking “I have been praying for healing, why I am not healed? Why my husband is still not saved despite all of my prayers? Why my children are rebelling against me if all I want for them is to know God????
After losing my baby in the car accident I wanted to ask God my questions so badly… But He wanted me to trust Him. And I didn’t ask. It was not an emotion it was a conscious choice to bring all my pain and all my emptiness to God and just to tell him “Here I am, hurting, hopeless, tired and lost, and I don’t understand. I don’t know how to deal with it, it’s too much to bear. I need you”.
That day lying on the hospital bed after a horrific accident, THAT was the moment when the covenant of Grace that I made with God when I was 13 years old became my Covenant of Trust with Him. It was then when I made a conscious decision to trust God. To trust Him with all my heart. To trust Him despite of what I could see with my eyes or feel with body or could understand with my mind.
God didn’t immediately take away my pain, neither physical nor emotional. I had a broken right arm and I was in a wheelchair because my back was broken. I was covered in bruises and scratches, and my heart was shattered. My husband had his ankle broken in several places and over the next week both of us had to undergo several reconstructive surgeries. It was a long healing process, but God gave us strength. Every time I felt like I was crumbling under the pressure of pain I would hide in His presence and just dwell there, and cling to Him. Sometimes I would cling to Him by reading His Word. I read about His love towards me and about the sacrifice that Jesus made for me on the cross and I allowed His Word to penetrate into my heart. Sometimes I would cling to Him with my prayers. I would tell Him about my pain, and I would complain to Him and I would tell Him that it was not fair and that I was frustrated and even angry. I was honest with God and I think God was ok with it.
But there were also times, I would cling to God just by sitting in His presence silently, because there were no more words to say and no more tears to shed and no more prayers to pray, just His sweet presence. Little by little, day by day, week by week God was healing us. He was healing our bodies, our hearts; He was healing our marriage by drawing me and Alex closer to each other and closer Himself, revealing Himself to us as our Lord, our Savior, our Provider, our Healer, our Sustainer, our Life. I trusted God and He saw us through…
Next year my husband and I are going to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. As soon as my body healed after the car accident I got pregnant again and we had a beautiful babe girl who is now 15. My husband did not know God when this accident happened. But I know without a doubt that it was the point when God started calling Alex into His Kingdom by healing his heart just as he healed mine, by demonstrating His love towards Alex through so many things that followed that accident. It took another 15 years, and many more life circumstances, good and bad, but my husband knows the Lord now and trusts Him with all his heart.
When I visit the grave of our unborn babe, when I remember that day I am still sad and the pain, that unexplainable pain in my heart, will never go away completely. But it’s ok, because I no longer see darkness in my past. Instead, I see God’s hand on our lives, His grace, His love, His provision. I see Him walking beside me my husband and our daughter every single day.
Is that faith? When life is hard and there seems to be no hope when instead of trying to understand we choose to Trust God, we chose to say “Here I am God. I need you. You are all I have. I don’t understand, but you are my God! And you will see to it!
Is that faith?
If it is, why then when I find myself in situations that I don’t understand, where my dreams and hopes are slipping away from me, why does my flesh still wants to doubt God and His promises.
So what is faith again?
Is it always neat and clear or can it be messy? Does faith include doubt? Does it include fear? Am I failing God because I am worried about my future?
When God asked Adam and Eve to trust Him, they failed. We all know what happened. But in Hebrew 11 we read about men and women of God who did not fail, who put all of their trust in God and held on to their faith to the end. And in the end, God praised them for their faith. In the end the author of Hebrew puts together the entire chapter 11 as a summary of their great faith so we could be encouraged by it. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Sarah, Isaac, Moses...
We know from the Old Testament that these men and women of faith were not perfect. Their walk of faith was not perfect. Many of them doubted, some of them laughed at God’s promises, many of them grew impatient of waiting on God and took the matters into the own hands and messed up big time. Some of them argued with God. All of them sinned. We know all of their stories from the Old Testament. But When we read about them in Hebrew 11 the only thing that we are told about is their faith, because in the end of the day that is what matters to God most. That we trust Him. That is the only thing that counts. At the end of the day, through their doubt and unbelief, they trusted God with everything they had.
We are not perfect. I am not perfect.
Sometimes I doubt, sometimes I grow impatient and take matters into my own hands and mess up. But in the end of the day God looks at our hearts and sees our faith and our love towards Him. That is all that matters to Him, that we love Him, that we trust Him, that we surrender our lives to Him, that we chose to be His people.
So What is faith? Is it always straight forward? Is it always neat and clear or can it be messy? Does faith include doubt? I still don’t know.
“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
I believe, this definition of faith gains different meanings at different times under different circumstances. It evolves and grows and changes its substance as our relationship with our Lord grows, evolves and changes its depth.
I embarked on this journey to figure out what faith is just to find out that the meaning of faith is so deep, so complex and so beyond our comprehension, that just as we will never fully grasp the depth of God’s love towards us, the extent of His sovereignty, the magnitude of His wisdom, the true meaning of faith will might just remain a mystery.
BUT while I can’t quite grasp the concept of faith, what I do know is that faith is messy! It is a struggle, it is a constant pull and push between our flesh wanting to doubt and our spirit wanting to believe. Faith is not peaceful. Jesus certainly was not peaceful in the Garden of Gethsemane when his sweat turned into drops of blood. He was struggling. Faith is always a fight.
I also know that faith is never easy. Because even when we lose an illusion of control that we have over our lives, when we are left with nothing else to cling on but God, even when we KNOW His goodness and His faithfulness and we have our own chapter 11 of Hebrews written in our lives to encourage us …. Even then, faith is NOT always easy.
But what do we do then? As I was praying to God about it He reminded me of a father who came to Jesus asking him to help his young boy who was possessed by spirits.
In Mark 9 verse 23 Jesus tells the father:
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”
And we read the father’s response:
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Faith is not easy! It is not easy for me, and maybe it is not easy for some of you too, and the Bible tells us that it was not easy for all the great men and women of God either.
Because we cannot do it by our own strength!
Because no matter how hard we try, our own strength is not enough, it’s not enough even to believe. In in our faith we nee God!
I need His strength to believe. And I will keep crying out to Jesus
“I believe. Help my unbelief! Give me that strength to continue to rust you”.