Our faith is both a comfort for us and a most powerful force for change. When the economy falters, or politics upsets us, or stress rolls through our lives, how does our faith speak to us in such troublesome times?
Indeed we are reminded of our great dependence on God. When life is uncertain, we yearn to live in greater trust of God. Paul prays in Athens, saying, "O God in whom we live and move and have our being ..." It recognizes the spiritual truth that our lives are completely encompassed in God's care and Spirit regardless of life's circumstances or troubles.
These days invite us to ask thoughtfully where we might rely more on God and less on our material life. Faithful living is an invitation to be responsible in our consumption, prayerful in our priorities for spending, discerning in our decisions about giving. Most of us don't easily alter our lifestyle, yet we might listen and hear God speaking to us in a new way in the midst of difficulty.
God may help us perceive other pathways of building a life of faith. God may ask us to consider altering our transportation to save money on gas, to reduce spending for our holidays, to travel less and share more valuable time at home with our family. Actually, none of these choices is bad for us and might offer a more faithful witness to our children and friends. Consciously making such decisions as a family might be a wonderful occasion to share with children and others how we listen in faith and make healthy changes by the grace and guidance of God.
We might find in such discernment that God truly is speaking a word of direction to our faith, reminding us we are not alone, encouraging us to proactively reconsider our use of time and our money, exploring a way to walk by faith. Such changes might help us keep the joy of continuing to give to our own faith community and charities knowing we have shared God's love with others in such need.
We might recover for ourselves the encouragement of God, who says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned" (Isaiah 43: 20).
Surely such a word speaks to our hearts and our times.
The Rev. Dave Summers is senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Tempe, 215 E. University Drive.