Apr 15, 2012
The gifts of God. Spiritual gifts. The Bible talks about such things. Sometimes even dedicated Christians can lull themselves into thinking that spiritual gifts are activities we are drawn to, ways in which we like to serve, that we then ask God to bless. The twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, however, lists nine specific spiritual gifts of God. One is Faith. Now, if we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we have imparted faith. And we can summon faith, to an extent, in our own spirits. But… faith is also a GIFT. When we feel weak, it is not an admission of more weakness, but of assurance, to ask God to grant a gift, an extra measure of faith. He offers it, all the time.
My good friend Melanie Bayless Veteto is our guest today, with a special message on this special subject:
Today my daughter Hazel asked, “What gifts did God give you, Mommy?” She was probably talking about my ability to draw a rainbow with the colors in the proper order, or my highly developed skills that involve scissors, paper, glue, and glitter (both “gifts” particularly impressive to a seven-year-old whose favorite color is pink) but I was happy to interpret her question in a spiritual way. She got me thinking about our spiritual gifts.
Now, I have a sister with a Divine gift of administration, and another with an indisputable gift of helps. My husband has the gifts of evangelism and teaching (and yet, I’m the professional teacher in the family), and my mom has that of hospitality; both of my brothers have strong leadership gifts and my step-dad has the gift of mercy.
But me, my darling Hazel-girl? My gift is faith.
We are all blessed with this one, if we believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us. Even so, some of us have an extra measure of confidence in the One who guards our trust. We have an assurance that in the end, the wrongs will be made right because that’s the promise of the resurrection; we have an assurance that all things will work out for our good because in the end that’s what the scripture says; we have an assurance that what is unseen is the real story of our souls, and that what is seen is only a shadow of our lives. In short, we have the assurance that our faith in God is not misguided and our hope in His word is not misplaced. We know it. We believe it.
I vividly remember the day I received the worst news of my life so far: my father (biological) was dying of metastasized stage IV melanoma. In the events surrounding his final weeks and death I remember driving, driving, driving and desperately looking into every car, and on every face, hoping to see evidence that I was not the only one daily living out one of the worst human situations I could imagine. In spite of my very serious efforts, I never saw anyone else’s pain during those upended weeks. But today, on an ordinary day in my life, I see pain all around: I have a friend who is suffering the collapse of her marriage; another dear one who sits at the hospital bed of her severely handicapped sister, holding her hand and watching her heart fail; another whose daily life is centered around the care and whims of a contentious spouse; an inspiring former pastor who is battling cancer (the cancer seems to be winning); a family whose son is facing diseases that make adults grow weak in the knees; another whose world cannot seem to straighten out no matter what good is granted it, and . . .
… you get the picture. Every day we face the worst situations we can imagine. The human condition is wrought with pain, suffering, and misunderstanding. We really don’t need to look too hard to find it. That is our story.
But here is our song: take heart. Have faith. The story isn’t over yet. Our souls can find strength when we hold fast to what we have been taught about God’s faithfulness, to what we have seen Him do in our past, and to what we have known deeply in our spirits, those assurances granted to us by the Faithful One. Wrongs will be made right, even if we don’t understand it now, and our gift of faith is especially proven in those moments of shadowy, earthly distress and discomfort. If we have faith enough to believe in a Savior, we can find faith enough to trust in His goodness.
My sister (the divinely administrative) sang this beautiful and favored hymn in a clear voice at our father’s funeral. Its message is hope. Its beauty lies in singing praises to the One who gives us song and voice during all our times, including (but not limited to) the run-of-the-mill and the dark and difficult. We sing because we know the eternal outcome is going to be all right.
Therefore, take heart, dear friends. Have faith. Be assured, blessedly, that though your story is difficult, messy, and human, your song will come as you hold fast the faith.
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One of the great gospel songs of the blind poet Fanny Crosby (of the 9000-or-so hymns and poems she wrote) is Blessed Assurance. Sometimes called This Is My Story, This Is My Song. This moving version is sung by thousands of attendees from around the world at the youth rally of Korean Campus Crusade for Christ 2007 in Busan, South Korea.
Click: Blessed Assurance