Another new year has begun. “Oh No,” please don’t remind us it’s time for “New Year’s Resolutions.” Ok, I won’t. But after sharing a few statistics from a leading world health organization about the current state of our world, including the rise of fear, anxiety, and depression, the pastor of a church I attend gave us a homework assignment. Here it is: “Name three things you can do to grow in your walk with Jesus this coming year.” Jesus is reported to have asked this question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)? We all have faith in something. In what or whom do you put your faith? What is this faith that Jesus is talking about? Is it a faith in Him that leads to peace in our individual lives? Can the object of your faith come through for you and give you what you need? Can your faith enable you overcome the stressful trying times in which we live? Can you identify weaknesses and strengths of your faith? Let’s take a moment to consider the kind of faith we need for troubled times and for troubled lives.
Faith provides an ever-present help in daily life and in difficult times? Faith-killers are things that prevent a confident faith. They include fear, worry, and anxiety. Other faith-killers may include not enough knowledge to know if the object you believe in can be trusted, having no guaranteed hope, problems with unanswered prayers, disturbing doubts, or negative past experiences that make trusting difficult. Faith in Jesus overcomes these objects, enabling us to please him, have confidence in him, and overcome an evil world that depresses us and destroys our lives.
Faith is not always easy, but when confidently exercised, it produces inner quietness and peace. In addition, if the object of your faith is ultimately trustworthy, then no matter what, it results in the hope that everything will be all right. Faith is a part of everyone’s life, but not everyone has the kind of faith that overcomes what the world throws at him or her. Although God’s blessings in our lives are wonderful, God does not bless his people with a pain free life. In fact, in a fallen world like ours, it seems God must necessarily allow trials of all kinds as a way to deepen our faith. Without trials we would not grow to meet God’s definition of maturity, that is, to be restored to our true humanity, which is exemplified in the person of Jesus (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19).
Faith does not allow itself to be attached to this world. It believes in something greater. It believes in the hope of God that allows us “to live securely and be at ease from the dread of evil (Proverbs 1:32-33). Faith believes in the truth that God has revealed. Without faith we are bound for self-destruction and death. This was typified in the Old Testament of the Bible by unbelieving people who God wanted to save, who had God’s good news spoken to them, but who died in the wilderness. “The word they heard (about God’s salvation) did not profit them, because it was not united by faith” (Hebrews 4:1-2).
Faith is not without its difficulties. Some things are hard to believe. We have doubts and questions. Whenever I contemplate the object of my faith, mostly God and the content of the Bible, I seem to end up with more questions than answers. Some questions have to do with curiosity and wanting to know the exact meaning of what I read. Other questions are threatening, disturbing, and bothersome to my faith because they seemingly challenge what I believe or want to believe. Some questions are disturbing questions about how I am doing, or not doing, at living my faith.
How we handle these questions has much to do with how we experience faith. Do we give up, or doubt our faith until we can satisfactorily answer certain questions? Are we interested enough to search for the answers, knowing our faith is strengthened with increased understanding? It helps to bolster our faith when we know more about it. Reasoning through difficulties is a part of helping to solidify our faith, although it must be recognized that there is much mystery to be accepted. Knowing more about our faith also enables us to help others who are struggling with their faith due to doubts or fears. We all have questions, but the most important question is not what we believe to be true, as if you and I determine truth. Rather, the most important question is this; What is it that is true that I need to believe?
Faith and prayer are closely related. Prayer is perhaps the most important thing we can do for increasing our faith. Prayer is vitally connected with faith. We can always learn more about how to engage God in prayer and about how important it is to give it a priority in their lives. When Jesus taught us to pray, the first thing he taught was to begin with acknowledging God’s name, “Our Father,” and then asking that his name be honored, and his will be done. Prayer is such an important part of our faith.
My prayer is that myself, and more people, will come to better understand faith; that we will see how faith relates to all areas of life; and that we will come to know how to use faith to overcome our problems and experience more of God and His blessings. We need to see and experience the many positive benefits of faith. For example, faith helps us overcome our addictions; and faith helps us achieve a positive self-identity, an identity that enables us to get out of those deep personal issues that are defeating us. Faith is extremely important, for it says in the Bible that without faith, it is impossible to please God, and that it’s our faith that enables us to overcome the world (Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:4).
From where does faith come? The apostle Paul said, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). I take this to mean that we must hear something before we can believe it, and the best thing to believe is a word from God himself, especially his word concerning Christ. The Bible offers a lot to be heard; there are plenty of words from God. I pray these words of God will spark your faith; no… rather that these words will set your faith on fire, so that you will see and experience God’s presence and goodness at work in your life as never before. Do you need the kind of faith that enables the overcoming of a troubled life? Try naming three things you can do to grow in your walk with Jesus this coming year.” Maybe learning more about faith for a troubled life can be one of those.