Saturday, January 13, 2007

load-bearing

"Faith is a burden; it's a weight to bear."

Unorthodox evangelical Christianity at it's finest. "His yoke is easy, and His burden is light!" we cry...but then why do people still hurt? Why is there still pain, even for the redeemed? Why do those who know Christ and who know the life we'll one day live have such a painful churning in their stomachs at the condition of the world around them, or even of their own lives? I read once that only Christians are really able to see what's wrong with the world. Only followers of Christ can truly know the sorry state we're all in. Only those who have real hope recognize such real pain.

It's hard to trust. It's hard to believe against experience. It's hard to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith hurts.

People who have no hope aren't disappointed by the way things are. Those who don't know that this world was never meant to be this way don't "groan inwardly" as they wait for a change. Faith is a heavy load on the shoulders of the ones who trust. It implies longing, it calls for patience, it forces steps through darkness to reach a goal that is desired but remains painfully unclear.

Noah was mocked as a fool, Job dismissed as a prideful liar, Abraham looked despairingly into the glare of death, Daniel's friends faced a pit of flames while he himself faced a pit of lions, and Stephen spoke boldly as he eyed the cold gray stones weighing each of their hands.

It hurts to believe in something. It hurts to hope for something more. Faith IS a burden; faith IS a weight to bear; faith IS a heavy, heavy load.

But the load that people of faith bear, though it doesn't lessen with time, will not weigh them down forever. When this world ends and everything we have, everything we do, will be gone forever, "these three remain: faith, hope, and love." What makes us "us" in this world will not survive, but what we look for, what we trust in, and what fills our hearts is of eternal importance. Our faith, our hope, our love - these matter.

"But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Gal. 5:5-6).

It's what counts after all is said and done. Christ is called the perfecter - the finisher - of our faith. He will finish it. In the end faith will be seen, hope will be realized, and all that will be left is love.

Let that support you as you walk under such a real and heavy load. Keep walking. The end will be in sight.

~2 Cor. 5:7~ We live by faith, not by sight.

I say faith is a burden
It's a weight to bear
It's brave and bittersweet
And hope is hard to hold to
Lord, I believe
Only help my unbelief

Till there's no more faith
No more hope
I'll see your face and Lord, I'll know
No more faith
No more hope
I'll sing your praise and let them go

'Cos only love remains

~Andrew Peterson, "No More Faith"