A few weeks ago I was driving down a highway on a long ride to visit family when I saw a billboard that read, “Have you lost faith in God? Call…” then it gave the phone number of a local church. So over the next several hours I pondered that question. I was puzzled. I was disturbed by the underlying assumptions it makes about the character of God. If we do, indeed, lose faith in God, it must mean that God let us down. It assumes that God did not live up to our expectations, that he did not answer our prayers to our liking, and that he is untrustworthy. Losing faith in God implies that he or his actions are somehow deficient and do not meet our needs or requirements. At that point, there is no use calling the church phone number because I would think there is little they could say to convince me otherwise.
So as I drove through endless hours of arid landscape, I thought that the question that really needs to be asked is, “Have I lost God in my faith?” Odd you may think but let me explain. The original question, it seems to me, is focused on the wrong person. The question assumes that I am the center of attention and that God should act in a way consistent with my desires. The question makes me the focus. And if I am that standard against which God’s actions are judged, then he will always come up short. We will be disappointed and faith will be lost.
But what if our understanding of God is faulty? What if I have over the years created a caricature of God in my image? What if the “faith” that I exercised was based on a wrong understanding of who God really his or a misunderstanding of his motives? What if I have bought into the lie that I am the one that should be served instead of the one who should be serving? What if I have judged his Book, his Church and his people as inadequate and therefore he is inadequate as well? It is easy to lose God in the midst of all this flawed faith.
In order for “faith” to be valid it must be based on the True God – the one who reveals himself in Scripture – not the God of our own construct. I find that it is typically not God who has let me down but it is me that has misinterpreted his actions. He is consistent in his character. He always has been and will be Good, so he will always act consistently with his goodness. He has always been Slow To Anger and he always will. He has always been Faithful, Loving, Compassionate. And if, for some reason, it does not seem that way in my life, the failure is not His, but my inability to apprehend his character in my circumstances.
When facing disappointment or confusion, the question is not, “Lord, why did you let me down?” the question is “Lord, don’t let I miss what you ARE doing?” My biggest fear is not that I would lose faith in God, but that I would lose God in the smallness of my faith.