Hello, my name is Cari and I am a recovering practical atheist. I know that may sound like a harsh description of myself, but I all too often find it to be disturbingly accurate. I know the right things to think and believe, yet a lot of times, when the rubber meets the road, I act as if my all-loving and all-powerful God is just a figment of my imagination. Let me reiterate, this is NOT what I believe to be true; it is though how I can often respond to situations when I reflect more anxiety than trust. This is particularly true when it comes to finances. I have experienced some painful trials in my life in which it was actually “easy” for me to trust and believe in God and His ability to care for me. For some reason, when it comes to money, I tend to travel away from that trust into a scary land of “what if’s,” “but how’s,” and “where are you God?” Many would say this is justifiable, after all, we are human right?! Yes we are, but let us not forget that those who believe in Jesus Christ are redeemed humans, filled with the Holy Spirit, children of the living God, heirs of the promise! As humans, doubts and fears will naturally arise, we should not beat ourselves up for that. The question is, do we let those doubts and fears overshadow our faith or do we let them be an opportunity to increase it?
My husband and I have taken turns, so to speak, being unemployed over the last year. I was without work from December 2011-June 2012 and he has been unemployed from June 2012 till now. The job I have now is part-time, and my husband daily fills out many job applications, puts on his coat and tie (the man cleans up nice :)), and introduces himself to the people whom he has sent applications to. The jobless situation has NOT been from a lack of trying! He has been receiving unemployment checks but that amount was cut in half the beginning of this year. Nevertheless, we have seen God’s hand of provision in our lives in awesome ways. We have had generous friends open up their homes and lives to us, we have never been without food (or left to a diet of Top Ramen and Peanut Butter..though that might not be too bad :)), and we have been able to pay our bills. Still, when I found out our unemployment check was going to be less, I went immediately into panic mode. My poor husband. The last thing he needed after getting discouraging news was my despondent attitude. He went out to take a walk and I proceeded to feed my friend’s 9 month old daughter her bright orange squash. In desperation and frustration I begin to talk to sweet little Hannah, venting my feelings to her. It went something like this, “Hannah, you are so lucky. You don’t have to worry about money, or bills, or jobs, you just depend on your mommy and daddy to provide everything you need.” Yes, did you feel that too? Conviction. The minute the words came out of my mouth I heard the Lord remind me that I too have a “daddy” who provides all my needs. He always has, He always will. If human parents who are imperfect can take care of their children, how much more does our Heavenly Father provide for us. This is not just a nice fairytale folks, this is the realist (yes, I know I used that word out of context) of realities. If we don’t believe God will take care of us, I think we are doubting more than His abilities or goodness, we could very likely be doubting His existence – hence the practical atheism.
Yes, we must do our part – pray, work hard, seek counsel, get our hands dirty – but may we do that believing that God is who He says He is (Real, Sovereign, Abba, Provider, Good). Believe. Believe. Believe. The risk lies not in believing, but in not believing. The word ‘believe’ has been used as of late in a campaign to convince children to hold on to their belief in Santa Claus. I want to use that word to remind us of what Christ wants us to do in Him. Fortunately, our belief in Him is not one that will one day be revealed to be a lie that was told to us, even if with the best of intentions, to create a world of our imagination. When this world is gone, He remains. One day we will know Him as we are known by Him (1 Corinthians 13:12). He is not a figment of our imaginations, a character created to make us feel better about our lives or what happens at the end of them. He is the beginning and the end. He is God. Let us believe in him not only by our words and for the sake of religion, but by our actions and where we place our trust.
God has been whispering something specific into my heart several times over the last year and a half: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40). As some may know, the context of that verse is Jesus speaking to Martha right before He raises her four days dead brother to life. She expressed earlier to him her belief that if he had arrived earlier he could have kept her brother from dying, and that even now he could receive whatever he asked from God. She believed Jesus when he said that her brother would rise again, but in her mind that rising would be in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus then said to her,
I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:25-27)
When Jesus requested that the stone be removed from Lazarus’ tomb, Mary responded with her concern about how bad it would smell since Lazarus had been dead four days. It appears she still did not realize what Jesus was about to do. Or maybe the thought crossed her mind, but she just couldn’t believe it would really happen. She expected a smelly, dead body, not a living Lazarus walking out of the tomb. One thing she undoubtedly believed though, is who Jesus was (and still is). And it is this belief that Jesus said would lead to her seeing the glory of God, both in the raising of Lazarus and even more so in the raising of Jesus Himself.
What has been “Four days dead” in your life? What is that which you believed in Jesus’ power to prevent yet struggle in believing his power to heal, fix, resurrect? Issues regarding money, relationships, addictions, depression, starting a family? Believe. Believe who Jesus is and in the power of what He can do. He might not do what you expect, but He will act in His wisdom which is much higher than ours. You WILL see His glory!