There’s a story in John chapter 4 of Jesus meeting and engaging with a Samaritan woman at a well. This is significant because Jews despised Samaritans, and wanted nothing to do with them.
But Jesus being who he is, came to love, serve, and save people. Cultural customs of the day did not stop him from doing just that.
It’s a story about how, in the midst of this woman’s broken and shameful life, he loved her where she was at, in spite of it all. He exposed sin that was in her life, not to judge her, but to show her that what he had to offer was so much greater.
Jesus offered her grace and hope in the midst of her shame. And we learn that many people began to believe in Jesus because of her testimony. Her faith in hope in Jesus rescued her from her life of pain and brokenness.
There’s another story of a man named Charles Tabor. Tabor was a wealthy millionaire miner in Colorado in the 1800’s who ended up divorcing his first wife for a much younger and more beautiful woman who went by the name of Baby Doe.
He was prominent enough and wealthy enough that even the president of the United States came to the wedding. Things were going great for a while, but then the reverse came. The mine started going in the other direction financially, and Tabor became ill and died. But before his death he told Baby Doe, “Have faith in the Matchless Mine; never give it up; for one day it will give you back all that I have lost.”
She took his advice, but the mine didn’t stage the anticipated comeback. She spent the last thirty-six years of her life in poverty, waiting for the mine to bring her wealth and restore her to her former position. She waited in vain. She died in poverty and without friends. Her hopes never realized. Her life a dismal failure and she came to a sad end all because she put hope and faith in something that could not come through.
What’s the difference between the Samaritan woman and Baby Doe? The object in which their hope and trust was put in.
In his book The Reason for God Tim Keller writes,
It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.
It does not matter how much faith or hope or trust you put in something if it can not come through for you in the end. The amount of hope you put in something is meaningless if that thing can’t save you.
The reality is that everything in this world is temporary. That job, that relationship, that house, whatever that thing is you really want, it’s all temporary. And temporary things can only temporarily satisfy.
If you take a minute to think about it, in what do you put your hope in? Can that thing really do for you what you think it can? Because we can either dream about or put all our effort into something we think may satisfy us, or we can allow the one, Jesus, who has already done everything for us give us the hope, love, and forgiveness we really need.
Option #2 sounds like a better plan to me. It’s not enough just to have faith in something, we must have faith in the right thing.