There's this interesting passage in Jeremiah 21 where the people declare, "Maybe God will do miracles for us." The people are, of course, at that moment in need of some miracles, some acts that only God can perform.
What's interesting about this is the way the people conceptualize the relationship between themselves, their God, and His miracles.
To the people who make this declaration, there is no question that this is their God. They do not doubt that they are His people. These are what we'd call in mathematics, "givens" - they are what they are, and they are not going to change. The miracles, then, are the variable. Maybe God will do miracles for us. Inherent in such a maybe is just its opposite - maybe He won't. Whether or not there are miracles does not change the nature of either of the givens.
Whether or not there are miracles, this is still our God, and we are still His people.
Fast-forward a couple of thousand years, and the equation is much different. There are no longer any givens, no longer any values that don't change. There may be a God. We may be His people. There may be miracles. Who knows? But that's not our most tragic math. No, we take it a step further and turn what was once a set of givens with just one variable into...
...a conditional statement.
If He does miracles for us, then He must be our God and we must be His people.
Of course, we might read this any number of ways. If He is our God, then maybe He will do miracles for us; if He does said miracles, then we are His people. Or If we are His people, then maybe He will do miracles for us; if He does miracles, then He is our God. Or maybe we take out the maybe altogether: If He is our God, then we are His people and He must do miracles for us.
All of a sudden, faith is an SAT question. And I don't know about you, but that significantly lowers my probability of getting it right.
What we need as the foundation of our faith is a good set of givens. We need to know that there are some things that never change, some things that just...are. Things like "This is our God" and "we are His people." What if you knew, without a doubt, that those two things would never change? What if you knew that nothing could change them? Everything else becomes a variable, but faith is certain.
The key is getting the givens right. See, we have a set of givens that we think ought to define our faith. It's these - "God is God" and "God does miracles." If God does not then do miracles for us, then He can still be God, but He cannot be our God. This makes faith the variable, and only God is certain. (But if we are uncertain about Him, He is not certain after all.)
Or maybe we say "God does miracles" and "we are His people." If these are the givens, but God does not do miracles for us, then God cannot be our God. The very nature of God has become the variable; He has become unknowable. That's no good, either.
So we have to get our givens right, and our givens lie not in what is done or not done, but what is and is not. What exists and what does not. What is the fundamental nature of things and what is not. God is God - that is the fundamental nature of God. God is - He declares this over and over again; He exists. The nature of Him does not change. Therefore, God is is a given. And if God is, then He must also be, as He says He is in His fundamental nature, our God. This is also a given.
We are His people. Our existence depends entirely upon Him. We are His creation. He formed us with His very hands. There is nothing we can do to change this, nothing we can say that makes this less than true. There is no explanation for our being other than that God has given us this very life. And so, like any work of the artist's hands, we are His. Given.
God is our God. We are His people. This much is true. On these facts alone, our faith is secure.
And maybe....there will be miracles.