Why is it so much easier to have faith for other people when they’re facing trials than it is to have faith for ourselves? Why does our spiritual vision seem so much clearer when looking into the unknown future of another than when we look ahead into our own darkened passageways?
I was forced recently to once again peer into a dark unknown, an uncertain future, that if left unchanged from the present would continue to bring pain and no answers. And the only thing I heard was a Voice asking, “Will you trust Me?”
As I was trolling through blogdom recently, I came across a quote from the movie, Miracle on 34th Street. Part of it, the line that gave me pause, was this:
“Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.”
Of course the faith referred to in the movie was a belief in Kris Kringle and all that he stood for. But ol’ Saint Nick is only a cheap substitution for where the true faith of Christmas lies. The celebration is rooted in the birth of One Who would give us all reason to have faith.
So many times we try to co-mingle faith and common sense. But faith and common sense come clashing against one another when the human side of us, the part that has to see to believe, meets the spiritual side of us when we are asked to believe without seeing. Faith and common sense go together about as easily oil and vinegar. You can try to mix them together, but because they are antagonists, they will always separate.
The story of Christmas really is all about setting aside common sense in favor of faith. There is nothing common in the events that transpired, and without faith, they make no sense.
Long before the birth of Jesus, approximately 740 years before, Isaiah prophetically foretold to Israel that their God would do the unbelievable: He would be born in human flesh.
Luke tells of a man, Simeon, to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that he would not see death before he would see the One Who would be the Consolation, or Comfort, of Israel. There is no telling how long this man waited to see the fulfillment of this promise. Common sense would have ruled out any chance of believing in something so great. But Simeon did not walk with God by common sense, but rather by faith.
And then there was Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin. She was well advanced in years and yet had not been able to conceive a child. But an angel appeared to her husband, Zacharias, and told him that his wife would bear a child, which was beyond all common sense. And Zacharias, though he was a priest, did not believe. In that moment he faced whether or not to believe a miracle, he tried to mix the oil and vinegar, and the vinegar rose to the top. But, of course, his wife did conceive, and not only did she bear a child who would announce the coming King, but her child was blessed with a miracle of his own and he was filled with the Holy Spirit even while still in his mother’s womb.
And Mary. A simple, young, teenage girl, living in obscurity, having no important reputation or anything that would have caused her to believe that she was anyone who would be chosen by God Himself for this exceedingly great gift. She was faced with perhaps the greatest test of faith: to believe that, though she was a virgin, she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and would conceive a child, and no ordinary child, but a Child among men. A Child sent from God who would be the Savior of the world.
Joseph was asked to set aside his common sense, too, and believe that his dearly betrothed had not been unfaithful, but was indeed bearing the Christ child, fathered by God.
They could have peered into the future and relied on their common sense, fleeing for their safety lest Mary be stoned to death. But they stayed and submitted all their common sense to the Lord. They lived by faith, not knowing the future, but knowing their God was righteous and holy and He would see them through.
The shepherds, too, believed in the angel’s words, “Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is a sign to you. You will find the babe wrapped, lying in a manger.”
They believed that their Savior had come in the humble form of a baby, not in a warm inn lying on a feather bed fit for a king, but rather enclosed by a stable lying in a trough fashioned for animals.
And the wise men wisely set aside their common sense to follow a star. For perhaps months they traveled with their eyes looking heavenward to find and worship at the feet of a Child who had left His throne in heaven to come down and serve us.
There is no common sense in this true story of faith. But God was greatly glorified in the lives of so many who chose to put their faith in God rather than rely on what they could see. So the next time God asks you, or me, to set aside our common sense in favor of faith, remember the Christmas story. If you find yourself peering into what may seem to be a bleak future and God asks you trust Him, remember Simeon, who waited perhaps most of his life, believing in a promise, trusting in His God, even when he saw no evidence, perhaps walking alone in his faith. And in trusting and waiting on the Lord, he did indeed lay his eyes upon the Promised Salvation given to the whole world.
Next year, dare to set aside common sense in your walk with the Lord. Take a leap of faith into the darkness and believe. Believe the words of Jesus when He said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)