Living in a world that is so performance driven can be a real challenge to our faith and fortitude as Christians. This is accentuated when we go through difficult days. We can become discouraged and disillusioned when God does not perform in a way that we think He could or He should.
This is why the faith of the patriarchs is such a good example for us to follow. Several times we are told of the faithfulness of their lives without experiencing the fulfillment of God’s promises. Look at Hebrews 11:13 and 11:39 for a moment. “These all died in faith without receiving the things promised; And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.” What kept them strong and faithful throughout their entire lifetime was not the promises, but the Promiser Himself. They did not live needing to see God’s promises fulfilled in their lifetime. They knew God would fulfill all that He promised in His perfect timing.
We must remember as precious as God’s promises are to us (2 Peter 1:4), that God Himself is our greatest prize and treasure! The highest quality of life is not seeing God’s promises fulfilled but in seeing God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Real living is engaging with God, experiencing Him, and enjoying Him every day. This intimate fellowship and communion are what sustained the patriarchs and it is what will sustain us though our darkest of days.
If our relationship with God is performance based, at least from our perspective, and God does not perform in the way or the time that we feel He should, we can move into an unhealthy spiritual state rather quickly.
God is moving, acting, and working all the time. “My father is working until now, and I too am working” (John 5:17). And this speaks of continual action on God’s part. He is never inactive even in fulfilling His promise. However, God much of the time is working behind the scenes, or underneath the surface. He is working on hearts internally and minds in the silence. But God is never beholden to us as to how He does things or when He chooses to do them. “Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
True faith and faithfulness hinge on counting on what God has promised whether it is ever personally realized or not. These patriarchs knew what was coming; that was what kept them going right up to the end. Their faith was not wrapped up in some immediate fulfillment, but in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. Here is where faith is tested and where it most matters. We must learn to be faithful and leave the results up to God. We must not get caught in the trap of following God only when He performs as we want Him to. If that is the case, we will not be following God very long at all.
Just because we live by faith and follow God, that does not guarantee the result that everything ends well for us here on earth. Please read Hebrews 11:32-38 carefully. If our earthly life is what we are living for rather than living for eternity, then we will be quite disillusioned and disappointed. But if our lives are looking toward eternity then whatever we lose in this life is not true loss at all for we have God and He is all we need. “Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that His is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).