Living By Faith
Are You Living By Faith?--We sometimes have the idea that men of great faith pray and have it easy. Here is a typical entry in George Müller’s diary:
“Nov. 19. Since Sept. 18, 1838, this has been, perhaps, of all the days the most trying. The poverty has been exceedingly great for the last six days. There had come in no money since yesterday. On this account no bread could be taken in, as far as the natural prospect went. Nor was there any money at three in the afternoon to take in milk for tea, when brother B. came to me. However, we prayed together, and the Lord had mercy. For one of the labourers found that he was able, which he knew not before, to give of his own 10s., so that there were the means to take in the milk, by the time that it is usually brought. This evening about six there came in still further 10s. 3d. by the sale of Reports. Thus, by the good hand of our God upon us, we were able to take in bread as usual. How very kind of the Lord that He sent us an abundance of potatoes and two large sacks of oatmeal, before this season of deep poverty, as to pecuniary means, commenced! May the Lord now in great pity look upon us, for we are in deeper poverty than ever, as with every day it increases, whilst there is no full deliverance. Thanks be to the Lord that my mind has been in peace this day also, though our faith has been so very much tried! Thanks to Him that my mind is in peace now, though there is nothing but want on every side before me, respecting tomorrow! Surely, the Lord will again, in His own time, more fully stretch forth His helping hand!”
Here is his entry made for the last day of the ﬁrst ﬁve years of his operating the orphanage. Note the abundance that he was working with:
“Dec. 9. Morning. This is the last day of the ﬁfth year of the Orphan work. Hitherto the Lord has helped us! This morning there was only 1l. 1s. 9d. in hand, but 1l. 7s. was needed for the supply of today. I therefore opened the box in my house, in which 2s. 6d. was found. This 1l. 4s. 3d. I sent off to the Orphan-Houses. Evening. There came in during this day 1l. 6s. 6d.; out of this I had to pay away 1l. 2s., so that now, at the close of the year, though the balance amounts to 15l. 0s. 6 1/4d., there is only 4s. 6 1/4d. in hand, as the rest has been put by for the rent, which is due up to this time. With this 4s. 6 1/4d. we have now to commence the sixth year, leaning upon the living God, who most assuredly during this year also will help us in every way, as our circumstances may call for it."
Would you be encouraged if the final day of your fifth year revealed such slim resources? Would you still say God was blessing you? We need to learn from Müller. Living by faith is often living "hand to mouth"—His Hand... my mouth! Maybe your struggles are more in line with living by faith than you realize:)
Müller commented on the impact of trials on his life and the well being of the ministry in the following entry that immediately followed:At the close of these details (with reference to the year from Dec. 9, 1839, to Dec. 9, 1840) I make a few remarks in connexion with them.
1. Though our trials of faith during this year also have been many, and recurring more frequently than during any previous year, and though we have been often reduced to the greatest extremity, yet the Orphans have lacked nothing; for they have always had good nourishing food, and the necessary articles of clothing, etc.
2. Should it be supposed by any one in reading the plain details of our trials of faith during this year, that on account of them we have been disappointed in our expectations, or are discouraged in the work, my answer is, that the very reverse is the fact. Such days were expected from the commencement of the work; nay, more than this, the chief end for which the Institution was established is, that the Church of Christ at large might be beneﬁted by seeing manifestly the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in the hour of need, in answer to prayer. Our desire, therefore, is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord graciously would be pleased to support us in the trial, that we may not dishonour Him by distrust.
3. This way of living brings the Lord remarkably near, He is, as it were, morning by morning inspecting our stores, that accordingly He may send help.Greater and more manifest nearness of the Lord’s presence I have never had, than when after breakfast there were no means for dinner, and then the Lord provided the dinner for more than one hundred persons; or when, after dinner, there were no means for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this without one single human being having been informed about our need. This moreover I add, that although we, who have been eye witnesses of these gracious interpositions of our Father, have not been so beneﬁted by them as we might and ought to have been, yet we have in some measure derived blessing from them. One thing is certain, that we are not tired of doing the Lord’s work in this way.
4. It has been more that once observed, that such a way of living must lead the mind continually to think whence food, clothes, etc., are to come, and so unﬁt for spiritual exercises. Now, in the ﬁrst place, I answer, that our minds are very little tried about the necessaries of life, just because the care respecting them is laid upon our Father, who, because we are His children, not only allows us to do so, but will have us to do so. Secondly, it must be remembered, that, even if our minds were much tried about the supplies for the children, and the means for the other work, yet, because we look to the Lord alone for these things, we should only be brought, by our sense of need, into the presence of our Father, for the supply of it; and that is a blessing, and no injury to the soul. Thirdly, our souls realize that for the glory of God and for the beneﬁt of the church at large, it is that we have these trials of faith, and that leads again to God, to ask Him for fresh supplies of grace, to be enabled to be faithful in this service.
5. My heart’s desire and prayer to God is, that all believers, who read this, may by these many answers to prayer be encouraged to pray, particularly as it regards the conversion of their friends and relations, their own state of heart, the state of the Church at large, and the success of the preaching of the gospel. Do not think, dear reader, that these things are peculiar to us, and cannot be enjoyed by all the saints. Although every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish Schools and Orphan-Houses, and to trust in the Lord for means for them; yet there is nothing on the part of the Lord to hinder, why you may not know by experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children. Do but prove the faithfulness of God. Do but carry your every want to Him. Only maintain an upright heart. But if you live in sin; if you wilfully and habitually do things, respecting which you know that they are contrary to the will of God, then you cannot expect to be heard by Him. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily God hath heard me; He hath attended to the voice of my prayer.” Psalm lxvi. 18, 19.
6. As it regards the children of God, who by the labour of their hands, or in any business or profession, earn their bread, particularly the poorer classes of them, I give my affectionate yet solemn advice, to carry into practice the principles on which this Institution is conducted, as it regards not going in debt. Are you in debt? then make confession of sin respecting it. Sincerely confess to the Lord that you have sinned against Rom. xiii. 8. And if you are resolved no more to contract debt, whatever may be the result, and you are waiting on the Lord, and truly trust in Him, your present debts will soon be paid. Are you out of debt? then whatever your future want may be, be resolved, in the strength of Jesus, rather to suffer the greatest privation, whilst waiting upon God for help, than to use unscriptural means, such as borrowing, taking goods on credit, etc., to deliver yourselves. This way needs but to be tried, in order that its excellency may be enjoyed.