Found Faithful {It Takes Some Time}

I remember typing the status like it was yesterday.

I’m not typically an “emotional post” kind of girl when it comes to social media, particularly with negative-type posts.

But I was at the lowest point on my journey with Jesus. The words practically typed themselves onto the page,

Alanna Konieczny is depressed and alone.

I erased it as almost soon as I posted it.

And though it was a rash emotional decision, the words indicated a deep spiritual reality with which I’m sure you can relate.

If I followed your leading, Jesus, then why don’t I feel happy?

If I believed your promises for my life, then why don’t I see their fulfillment?

It had been two months since I had chosen to make a radical change in my life, abandoning the familiar comfort of my plan for the future. I wondered,

Isn’t God supposed to be the good gift giver? The promise keeper?

Then why does my heart ache? Why do I feel abandoned and forgotten?

This night proved to be one of the most pivotal in all my spiritual journey: it was my opportunity to return to my former way of life.

I had a choice to continue to press into belief or to back out in fear.

Many people can be faithful with one given assignment, but God is looking for people who are faithful for years, not just in one isolated scenario. In an instantaneous society, that is not what we long to hear, but it is the precedent established in God’s Word. Being found faithful often looks like walking with God for many years before we see the fullness of what He has promised.

When I read the story of Abraham, the first logical question that surfaces is, “Why Abraham? Why did God choose to work in Abraham’s life the way that he did? Out of all the people who inhabited the earth at that time, why did God call Abram and make a covenant with him?”

Nehemiah 9:8 provided me the answer: “You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites.”

Disclaimer before we dig any deeper: God first and foremost does what He does because of His unmerited choosing, or grace, but this verse indicates that our faithfulness does play a part in the grace of His choosing.

I love this verse because it communicates when God found Abraham faithful. “And” is a conjunction that is used to join two events that happened simultaneously, so we can infer that God considered Abraham faithful at the moment He made the covenant with him.

If we want to know how God defines faithful, then looking at Abraham’s story, particularly before God established His covenant with him, is a great place to begin.

The Hebrew word for faithful used in Nehemiah 9 is aman, meaning trustworthy and established. The combination of these two words so beautifully illustrates what it means to be found faithful.

Trustworthy means that God can trust us to obey His commands. He can trust that we will substantiate our faith by accompanying our belief with action.

If He calls us to “leave this land for a land I will show you,” in other words abandon the familiar way of life, then we leave like Abraham did.

But it’s the second part of the definition where so many fall away from faithfulness.

Established literally means “over a length of time,” which means that time is an indispensable part of God’s definition of faithful.

This truth is evident in Abraham’s story. God did not make a covenant with him as soon as he left the land of his family. He lived as a nomad for many years before God established and fulfilled His covenant with Abraham, the promise of land and a child for whom he hoped.

Abraham’s faithfulness was established over a length of time and through many scenarios that required his faith to be demonstrated.

First, he encountered a severe famine almost immediately after he stepped off the land of his family.

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe (Genesis 12:10 NIV).

In the same way that Abraham was battling starvation, so our souls often feel starved after we obey God. Famine is indispensable in establishing faithfulness. This is not because God enjoys watching us suffer, but because God can only give us provision for needs we actually have.

If we are starved of the necessities we naturally seek-food, community, and shelter-we are mostly likely to seek God for what we need, instead of relying on our own strength.

Secondly, Abraham demonstrated faithfulness in his interactions with others.

He handled his family affairs in a God-honoring way, giving Lot first choice of the land they wandered, so that their herdsman would no longer quarrel.

When King Melchizedek offered Abram great riches and reward for defeating his enemies, Abraham refused his gifts.

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share (Genesis 14:22-24, NIV).

Abraham was committed to living his life in a way that God alone would receive the glory. Even when he was given the opportunity to make a way for himself, Abraham chose to stake all of his hope in God.

Chapter 15 then begins with, “After these things.”

Sometimes, God’s covenantal interaction with us, the fulfillment of His Word and His promises to us, must happen “after these things.” Because it is these very things which establish our faithfulness.

God could have omitted some of these details from His Word. We would still be able to see the plan of Israel unfold without the details of Chapters 13 and 14. But the fact that God included these details that almost seem to derail from the story at hand demonstrates that these details were actually a part of the story, not a detraction from it.

Abraham’s story even shows us that it’s okay for a faithful soul to question God. God is not intimidated or caught off guard by our questions. Abraham questioned God right before he crossed the threshold of authentic belief.

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir (Genesis 15:2-3, NIV).

Have you ever asked, God, what can you do for me if you haven’t even kept your promise?

Here’s what Abraham’s story reveals: Being faithful doesn’t mean we never question God; it means we resolve to believe at the end of that questioning.

Abraham receives God’s answer as truth.
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, NIV).

This verse begs my brain to question, “Why does Scripture just now say that Abram believed God? Had he not already believed God and acted on that belief? ”

Of course he had. But it was his holding onto that belief over a length of time that authenticated it.

God established the covenant with Abram after these words are recorded.

Just as God did not immediately establish His covenant with Abram, so God most often does not immediately give us the fulfillment of all the promises He has made to us. Time establishes faithfulness. A person who believes God for years before seeing the fulfillment of a promise, that person is fittingly classified as faithful.

One little disclaimer I love that God included in these chapters is that being found faithful is not the same thing as being found perfect. Abraham’s mistake of lying to the king of Egypt is recorded in Chapter 13 to show us that grace is always the underlying theme of the story.

But grace doesn’t minimize the role of our faithfulness in the process.

When I look back on that depressing Facebook post, I see it as the Chapter 13 in my story.

The famine in my soul was far from enjoyable, but it was necessary for establishing my faithfulness.

Thankfully, a “facebook friend” reached out and suggested a new book he had been reading.

I devoured the book, cover to cover in one night, and it’s as if scales fell off my eyes with every page turn and every shed tear.

This moment turned out to be one of the single most influential spiritual nights of my entire life.

Looking back, I can articulate the lessons learned:

If our hearts never ache, then we’ll never know God’s healing power.

If we never feel alone, then we’ll never experience Him being more than enough.

If we never feel forgotten, then we’ll never have to sink our teeth into the truth of His Word and believe in what we do not see.

Wherever you are, whatever questions you may be asking, resolve to believe in the God who is unendingly faithful to you.

The clock will be the enemy or the establisher of our faithfulness.

Let’s not try to rush the process and subsequently give up as time ticks on. Instead, let’s be at peace with the precedent of God’s Word: It takes some time to be found faithful.