In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
God is always there in times of trouble
The Rev. Fran T. Cary, pastor of Trinity A.M.E. Church, Kansas City, Kan.: As a child, I loved hearing my mother read the Bible about people who had faith in difficult times. Noah built a boat in a time where people had never seen rain. Abraham and Sarah waited patiently for the promises of God beyond child-bearing years. I knew even then that the Bible wasn't merely a history book but a guide to what God would do today.
Every day we read and hear about trouble in the world. However, there is hope, for Scripture teaches us in John 16:33, ". . . In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
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In these difficult times we can build our faith by reading and speaking God's word. Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It is through the word that our mind gets renewed. Therefore as we build our faith, we can pull down strongholds and bring every thought captive to the will of Christ.
Your faith will grow as you continue to agree with God and put his word on your lips. Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.)" No matter what we are going through, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Walk by faith, not by sight!
Ask God what is required
Rabbi Mark Levin of Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, Kan.: I've heard that Elie Wiesel was once asked how he could have faith in God after the Holocaust. His response was something like: "Humans must have faith in something. After the Holocaust, what can you have faith in other than God? Not government. Not the military. Not industry. The only thing you can have faith in is God."
Whether the quotation is accurate, it's true. In Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, humans are commanded to work and preserve the world. When Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes are opened and they become aware that all moral decision-making lies with them, not with God. Humans are God's arms and hands in the world. We are placed on this planet to create the good life for all of God's creatures by working and preserving our world for ourselves and subsequent generations.
Each decision demands moral reckoning, a human obligation that places us above the other animals in God's creation.
In every decision, in every moment, ask yourself, "What does God require of me?" (Micah 6:8) Center yourself within, perhaps through prayer or meditation. Remove self-deceit, pride, personal gain, all forms of self-aggrandizement and simply ask, "What is God asking of me now?" When you act on it, it will build your faith.