Those who find no humor in faith are probably those who find the church a refuge for their own black way of looking at life, although I think many of us find the church a refuge for a lot of our personality faults. Those of us, for example, who never learned to dance feel that the church is an ideal place for us if we can find a church that doesn't believe in dancing. Then we can get away with never having learned how to dance. You can carry this in all sorts of directions and see that the church is a refuge for what is really a 'flaw' in your own makeup.
The only way God can strengthen his presence in our will is to weaken his presence in our feelings. Otherwise we would become spiritual cripples, unable to walk without emotional crutches. This is why he gives us dryness, sufferings, and failures.
Scripture also makes clear that our faith is not a work. Our new status is based wholly on the merits of Christ and not on anything about us. While a paintbrush may be the instrumental cause of a work of art, the real and efficient cause is, of course, the painter. In the same way, while faith may be the instrumental cause of our union with Christ - that which brings about salvation - the real or efficient cause - that which is finally responsible for salvation - is God.
Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living. Well, then, look at the facts in this case. The Saviour is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man prick the consciences of men...?
Why the delay? Why does God let evil and pain so flagrantly exist, even thrive, on this planet?...He holds back for our sakes. Re-creation involves us; we are, in fact, at the center of his plan...the motive behind all human history, is to develop us, not God. Our very existence announces to the powers in the universe that restoration is under way. Every act of faith by every one of the people of God is like the tolling of a bell, and a faith like Job's reverberates throughout the universe.
Certainly we should be very active in seeking God, and Jesus himself called us to 'ask, seek, knock' in order to find him. Yet those who enter a relationship with God inevitably look back and recognize that God's grace had sought them out, breaking them open to new realities.
Guidance, like all God's acts of blessing under the covenant of grace, is a sovereign act. Not merely does God will to guide us in the sense of showing us his way, that we may tread it; he wills also to guide us in the more fundamental sense of ensuring that, whatever happens, whatever mistakes we may make, we shall come safely home. Slippings and strayings there will be, no doubt, but the everlasting arms are beneath us; we shall be caught, rescued, restored. This is God's promise; this is how good he is.
For Mercier, it was the ceremony of the mass that eased his soul: the sweetish smoke trailing from the censer, the ringing of the bell, the Latin incantations of the priest. In Warsaw, he attended early mass, at a small church near the apartment, once or twice a month, confessing to his vocational sins – duplicity, for example – in the oblique forms provided by Catholic protocol. He’d grown up an untroubled believer, but the war had put an end to that. What God could permit such misery and slaughter? But, in time, he had found consolation in a God beyond understanding and prayed for those he’d lost, for those he loved, and for an end to evil in the world.” ― Alan Furst, The Spies of Warsaw
For many, the search for Jesus is initiated from experiencing an event in life so powerful, it awakens the dragons of faith; from pain so deep, it calls on the hidden fears of the soul in an effort to survive. For others it means a serious personal life survey that ultimately forces the confrontation with the futility, anesthetics, and despair in their lives.
God is not only the God of the sufferers but the God who suffers. ... It is said of God that no one can behold his face and live. I always thought this meant that no one could see his splendor and live. A friend said perhaps it meant that no one could see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his sorrow is splendor. ... Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it.
With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides,
flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one
end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist
attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of
the Pledge of Allegiance?