“‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). Apart from God, we are indeed but “sound and fury, signifying nothing,” a “brief candle” on “the way to dusty death.”  Yet, God did not make us that way. Rather, we chose emptiness and death when we claimed independence from our loving Creator, even as He lavished on us countless blessings and surrounded us with the clear testimony of His power, genius, and goodness. We ran from the Light, rejected “the fountain of living waters,” and made for ourselves “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). We spent our wealth for “what is not bread” and worked for “what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2), and blamed God for the results.
Yet, despite our contempt, God pursued us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). The way, the truth, and the life became flesh “and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 14:6, 1:14). Yet, even “those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11), for “men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). With darkness of heart comes darkness of understanding and despair. And while “loveless” and “self-imprisoned” people will only “consent to be happy” “on their own terms,”  meaning and answers come with a bowing of the will and knee, the acceptance of God on His terms. Yet, God pursued us still:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)
All people are responsible to believe in Christ on His terms, but the initiation, accomplishment, and application of salvation in Christ belong to God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). His gracious purpose in saving sinners will be done, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5), “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3); apart from Christ, only questions and darkness remain. If you have been united to Christ by faith, you possess “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Whatever your circumstance or difficulty, whatever opposition you may face for your faith in Christ, God has given you everything you need to trust Him. The world may attack Christ and your allegiance to Him, and ask you to join the futile and eternal disaster of unbelief, but God will have the last word. Covered in the righteousness of Christ we will soon “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). Our troubles, suffering, and the scorn of unbelievers “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). May our happy hope and faith in the indomitable God of the universe lead us to greater assurance and joy, with greater compassion and love for unbelievers, even as they oppose us. May God strengthen you “with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11-12). Amen.
 William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
 C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Harper Collins, 1946; paperback, 2001), 135.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2017 Craig Biehl, adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith, Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.
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