People ask me from time to time how I can still believe for things that have seemed so completely hopeless for years.
I love this question. It gives me an opportunity to share my unwavering faith in a God who specializes in the “impossible.”
“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”
– Romans 4:20-21
I didn’t always have this kind of faith.
Actually, I don’t always have this kind of faith.
Believe me, there are many days, when I feel much closer to the Centurion than Peter.
In fact, there aren’t too many days that I don’t think those very words, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
I grew up reading the stories about these men and women of great faith and thinking, “well, that’s not me.”
It discouraged me tremendously.
See, I wanted to believe that kind of faith was possible, but it didn’t feel very real to me. At least not in my life.
Looking back though, I realize that, by definition, I had no faith.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
– Hebrews 11:1
The truth is, I pretty much only believed in what I could see.
I believed in my circumstances.
I believed in my feelings.
I believed in things I could define, in what I could understand.
Too often my feelings told me that my circumstances proved God wasn’t there and didn’t care. When the exact opposite was true. (And still is.)
Those tough times were opportunities to build my faith, for me to trust and obey and for God to show himself to be real and active in my life.
God always uses the challenges in our lives to build our faith, bring us closer to Him and do great things in and through us.
– God’s glory was demonstrated to both His people and enemies when David had the courage to face Goliath.
– Mary and Martha had to suffer the loss of their brother, Lazarus, to really understand Jesus’ love for them.
– Paul and Silas had to be imprisoned to bring the jailer and his whole family to Jesus.
– The apostles had to be in the middle of a storm for Jesus to calm it.
– The man had to be born blind for Jesus to heal him, and more importantly, reveal himself to him.
– The disciples had to live through the pain of watching jesus die, to experience the joy of his resurrection.
Listen, if we want to be men and women of great faith–we’re going to be put in some circumstances that require great faith.
There is no other way.
There are no short cuts.
It’s gotta be lived through, tried by fire, earned in battle,
Now, even stepping in to those circumstances, and each step through them, requires some faith.
We need enough faith to obey.
That’s the critical first step, the key to our breakthrough.
Do we have enough faith to obey?
Even when it isn’t what we want to do?
Even if we’ll lose some friends?
Even if it hurts?
Even if it makes no sense to us?
Joshua had faith that God’s unorthodox battle plan would work. But how much more faith did he have when it actually did?
That’s the reward on the other side.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Faith is the fountain, the foundation, the fosterer of obedience.”
It is also true that obedience leads to greater faith.
See, I believed that God could, but wasn’t quite convinced that He would. So I did what I wanted. I did what was most expedient for me. I did not obey.
Today, I am striving to do what God says. To do it His way, no matter the cost.
From an earthly perspective it might seem more convenient and comfortable to find my own solution, but I know how that ends.
And please don’t believe that God understands our disobedience and that He’s okay with it. That we can blow off what God says because “our situation is special.” That we are some sort of an “exception.”
That is a lie straight from Hell. A lie that’s tempting to believe because it feels so good.
But God warns against doing what we think is right, over and over again in His word: Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 3:5-7, Jeremiah 17:39.
God is never ok with our disobedience.
Don’t trust books, gurus, experts, TV preachers or blog writers. Check with the Word.
Even well-meaning Christian friends and family will encourage us to choose our own path, in direct contradiction to what God’s Word tells us, by saying things like, “Hey God wants us to be happy.”
And He no doubt does. But the path to the joy He has for us–peace that we can’t comprehend–isn’t in choosing our own way. It’s in exercising enough faith to obey.
Its trusting that if I do what God says, I will always be better off. And that my obedience will bring glory to God and point others toward Him.
So, back to that original question. How can we trust enough to obey, even through the hardest of times, when there seems to be no hope?
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed…”
We just have to have enough faith to obey. That faith is rewarded with confidence in God and deeper faith. And the process, the journey, is key, as Paul reminds us, because it ultimately ends in the hope we’re so desperately searching for:
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope..”
– Romans 5:3-4
And know this, God is trustworthy. There’s a purpose to your pain. Whatever you’re walking through right now, He’s got this.
For King & Country put it this way in their new song, Shoulders:
You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless
MORE: Charles Spurgeon’s mind blowing message on Faith