I am finding that knowledge of both Scripture and church history is vital to the maintenance of faith. I see this view supported by scripture itself, most particularly in Hebrews 11.
Noah was directed by God to build an Ark. It took him approximately a hundred years to complete this task. A hundred years of ridicule by his peers. A hundred years before seeing the purpose and fruit of his labors (i.e. the flood). Abraham was commanded to “go to a place I will show you.” He obeyed. He never saw his progeny numbering more than the stars and sand. He struggled with believing God could and would provide a single son by his wife Sarah (both being “well advanced in age” – a fancy way of saying, “really be-freakin’ old”).
Job found himself completely ruined, both financially and bodily, for no reason he could ascertain.
Joseph spent years as a slave and years more in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
The Pilgrims left england for Holland seeking religious freedom. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Yet in the Netherlands they encountered a different set of problems. The Netherlands had laws restricting how much an adult Englishman could work. There were no such restrictions on children (and no child labor laws either). The children ended up working long hours in order to provide for the families needs. Education happened by firelight for only a few hours. Besides this, while Holland offered religious freedom, it was an incredibly godless society, spiritually unhealthy. Their children spent more time away from the family working among secular humanists that with the family learning about God. The result: children began to become apostate.
Today, there are Christian families in America who have lost everything and are homeless. Christian families that followed what they understood to be God’s will and the result has been destitution and worldly shame.
Where was/is God in all this? Looking back in history we can see the Glory of God shining through. These godly people could not. Those living through it now struggle to understand why just as Job did.
I thank God for people of faith who have lived through the Valley and the Dark Night of the Soul in a way that has glorified Him. I pray He will maintain, not simply myself, but my wife and children as well. Not that He would bless us with earthly wealth, but that He would bless us with increased faith and trust in Him… no matter what.