A question of belief
Can I be open and honest with you?
Throughout my decades as a follower of Jesus, I have had several mini-crises of faith. Times of struggle or tragedy in my own life (or in the lives of those that I love) have caused me to pause and wonder a number of different things, like:
· Does God really care what happens to us?
· Is living the Christian life really worth it?
· Do I really believe all this “Jesus stuff”?
These are hard-core questions, and our pride may make it difficult for us to admit to other people that we wrestle with these kinds of thoughts. But we wonder, just the same. And it’s hard to reason through these kinds of questions. Our feelings can be all over the places, especially when life goes sideways. Throw in the daily struggle with sinful desires, and we can easily start a mental tailspin.
As our feelings ebb-and-flow and our actions are typically tainted with at least some level of selfishness, we can’t rely on ourselves to answer these questions and doubts. This is where it is helpful to look at what Jesus explicitly said about us and about Himself.
John’s record of a conversation between Jesus and Martha can help as we deal with our questions and doubts:
When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away). Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.
As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give You.”
“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”
Martha was going through what was likely the toughest time of her life – her brother had fallen sick and she watched over him as he died. God hadn’t answer her prayers to heal Lazarus. Jesus didn’t arrive in time to rescue Lazarus from the pain he was suffering. Martha had been grieving for four days when Jesus arrived.
Martha was looking toward future events for comfort, instead Jesus directed her to look at who was standing next to her. What Jesus offered was Himself. It is in this conversation that Jesus states one of His greatest “I am” statements: I am the resurrection and the life. If we believe this statement, then Jesus guarantees that even if our bodies experience physical death, we will still live – forever.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say to clean up our lives and then He’ll give us eternal life. He does not tell Martha to examine her life to see if she really does believe in Him. He also does not tell her to make sure she continues to act a certain way. In fact, Jesus does not tell Martha to look at herself, at all.
Jesus said that those who believe in Him have eternal life, no matter what else happens in this life. Based upon what Jesus said, our hope and eternal security are found exclusively in Him – not in our circumstances, not in how we feel, not in how we behave.
Do you believe this?