When considering the possibility of extreme circumstances, such as the woman we referenced who lived the majority of her life in bed without limbs, our thoughts may immediately fly to our potential response. "Would I have enough faith to endure such a circumstance, or even as the faithful sister, to thrive?"
Let us settle the question immediately by proposing that it is misguided. Such an inquiry means that we are focused on ourselves rather than the Lord Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). We must rather ask, "In such a challenge, would He be present, enabling, and faithful to His promises?"
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isaiah 43:2).
Our own capacity for faith does not comprise the primary issue of faithfulness. The Lord Jesus revealed this when He declared that the tiniest measure of trusting God, a mustard seed, engages the power of God to move mountains (Matthew 13:31-32). Indeed, the story of the faithful sister actually spotlights the faithful Lord unto whom she looked, and the assurance of His promise, "He that believeth on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). By definition, the Christian life involves our determination to trust the Lord for every act of faithful obedience, distrusting our own capacities in the process: "We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). Our sister of old would chide us if we emphasized her faith, directing us rather to the gracious Lord who reminded her of His promise that "living waters" flow from the stark simplicity of "believeth on Me." She actually did little, thus engaging the Lord who enabled her to subsequently do so much for His glory and the blessing others. Or, as Paul confessed, "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (I Corinthians 15:10).
The primary issue of faithfulness involves not the possibility of what we might do in extreme circumstances of the future. We must rather focus on the challenge of now, be it extreme or of the more usual variety (which can feel quite extreme). Will we trust the Lord for His "rivers of living water" right now? Again, this is not the primary issue of faith and faithfulness. Instead, we first look upward and away. Is the Lord Jesus present, involved, and able to empower our faith and faithfulness in the present moment? This is the question that focuses our hearts and minds whereby we trust God as the fruit of His person and promise. As in the blessed experience of our sister of old, to the degree we direct our attention accordingly will be the degree to which we walk accordingly.
"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all Thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Weekly Memory Verse
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.