I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith. Jude 1:3, 20 (NRSV)
Unspeakable violence, tragedy caused by tornadoes and human error, pain and sadness remind us that life is not easy. Such events have a way of driving our faith in God under water or into the fire and of making us doubt the hope proclaimed in the Resurrection of Jesus. I know because of my own recent personal experience of grief.
How do we, should we, respond to events and circumstances that threaten our faith?
The writer of the Letter of Jude urges the early followers of Christ to “fight” for, be intentional about, the faith that had been entrusted to them in order to resist false teachers. The writer’s advice is wise counsel for us when we are faced with life-shattering and life-altering events, situations and circumstances that threaten to break our faith.
We are called to have intentional faith, a faith that is focused on Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit working within us. Yes, faith is a gift from God but we have a personal responsibility to build up and strengthen our faith at all times and in all circumstances, even in times of worry, stress, violence, tragedy, hurt, pain, illness, or sadness.
We are called to work and run hard spiritually through prayer, worship . . . and in community to hold onto and grow our faith. Like a muscle, faith is strengthened when it is stretched in the worst of circumstances. Be intentional about staying focused on Jesus and the choices we make each day to be joyful and thankful.
Through intentional faith, we grasp the full measure of God’s love and grace and embrace God who is bigger than our troubles, tragedies, pain, and sorrow. We remember that God is with us and look where God is working to bring good out of bad.
We look through life’s rearview mirror and see how God brought us through past troubles, hurt, and pain and receive assurance that a merciful, gracious God gives us strength and grace to endure circumstances and to find our way forward to renewal . . . to life.