(…continued) So, where do we get those beliefs? Where should we get them? Is it enough that the thoughts just occur to us from our own little, inner voice? Or, should such thoughts and beliefs be based on something; something solid like the Bible. But then you have to know what the Bible says, and, why it can be trusted on a deeper level than all other books. So you have to study it. And there is a lot in there. And yet, these questions are important. The lack of a meaningful answer can mean the death of faith and the loss of hope, now and forever.
Anytime life makes you ask, “Why, God?” you are on your way to wrestling with the very deepest dilemmas of life and faith. If you keep on seeking an answer you will be led deeper and deeper into what the Bible says.
As someone who has been digging into the Bible and other books with a passion for over 40 years, I can tell you that I don’t have it all figured out yet. There is much to learn and it is all very helpful, but still, time and time again I am led back from all my books to the simple belief I have held onto ever since I could first hear and understand words– “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” It really is as simple as that. Simple faith does save you and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
But life itself will many times complicate it all for you, and many times you will look at what is happening to you and to your loved ones and you will ask, “Does Jesus really love me?–It sure isn’t looking that way right now.’,’ Perhaps you have felt that way.
And that is when it will help to know more of what the Bible says, and how it is that Jesus loves us even in the midst of our pain; and how sometimes, (not always but sometimes), God might even be the cause of our pain for some good purpose; and, how sometimes God doesn’t cause our pain at all, but protects us from the harm that Satan seeks to do to us; and how sometimes, of course, we cause our own pain, and, others cause us pain; and on and on. And this can all get very complicated. And there are answers and insights enough in the Bible to keep you busy for a lifetime of study. Some, like myself as a pastor, have more time for this than others. It has been a part of my job and calling to struggle with that and to be here to respond to your faith questions and to teach you what I have learned. But all Christians will want to seek more understanding and try to get some handles on these great mysteries of life and faith, in order to help your faith grow in depth and strength. Is faith simple? Yes it is. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved, the Bible says. PERIOD. That is simple. But there will be all kinds of times in your life when you will want to know more.
And the best time to learn is before you need to. The right time to fix your roof is NOT when it is pouring rain and thundering and lightening; and the time to learn about the mysteries of God and faith is not in the minutes or days right after a tragedy. You fix the roof on the sunny days so you are ready for the rain; and you want to learn about your faith in the happy and peaceful days before the bad days come.
The reading at the beginning of this two part meditation is short and simple—only five verses. Jesus is visiting at the home of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead. Martha is doing all the work, and she is getting irritated with her sister who isn’t doing anything. So Martha complains to Jesus, and Jesus says to her, “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed most of all, and Mary has chosen what is best.” And what was it Mary had chosen? To sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him and learn from him. Jesus told her this is what is most important of all. This is what this meditation has been about—taking the time to learn from the Bible what Jesus says about Himself and God the Father and the Holy Spirit and why bad things happen and about life and eternity.
And when we do that, the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts to create a faith that endures, and that, said Jesus in verse 42, is what we need most of all.
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Book of Common Prayer
O Lord God, Heavenly Father, we beseech thee so to guide us by thy Holy Spirit, that we hear and receive thy Holy Word with our whole heart, in order that through thy Word we may learn to place all our trust and hope in Jesus; and following him, be led safely through all evil, until by thy grace, we come to everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
—United Lutheran Church Hymnal, 1917