By Maria Fontaine
The topic of living and experiencing faith is such a big and sometimes nebulous concept. It can be challenging to answer the question, “What is it that can give me faith or strengthen the faith I already have and make it useful for me today?”
One thing that encourages me that things will work out is knowing that God’s love for me is so great. I know that He will always make it as easy as possible for me. Everything won’t always be smooth, but in His love, He always gives grace and brings me through in His time. He doesn’t allow things to be hard for no reason. He won’t allow anything to come my way that He knows isn’t going to be helpful to me in some way.
South African pastor Andrew Murray (1828–1917) once faced a terrible crisis. Going into his studio, he sat a long while, quietly, prayerfully, thoughtfully. At last, picking up his pen, he wrote these words in his journal: “First, He brought me here; it is by His will that I am in this place of distress and trouble: in that fact I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child. Next, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—when and how He knows best. Let me say, I am here [in this difficult place], 1) by God’s appointment, 2) in His keeping, 3) under His training, 4) for His time.”
Another thing I do is to take little minutes with Jesus whenever I feel distracted by battles and burdened by problems, pouring out my heart to Him about my troubles, often hearing a few words from Him that help me to understand, or to hang on, to not take it so hard, or whatever He knows I need to hear to bring peace to my heart.
He promised in His Word that He would always provide the comfort we need: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18 KJV)
Additionally, the praise lessons that I’ve learned and have been able to practice through the years keep me on an even keel. Praise truly does have power, and God rewards praise because it’s a sign of my faith in Him—faith that He will help me in the situation as long as is necessary, and faith that He will bring me out eventually. Praise is powerful, and it’s one of my invincible weapons. There is so much in the Bible on praise. Reading King David’s praises in the midst of the terrible problems he faced motivates me to have faith, too.
Closely related to praise is positiveness. When I’m trying to build up my faith, I can’t be focusing on anything negative.
I found this account of someone who was spending the night in a rickety hotel in a large city in Brazil. He said, “A friend and I ascended to our room, high in the building, in a tiny, creaking elevator. From our window I saw slums spreading out far beneath me, and I felt uneasy. That evening I prayed, ‘Lord, please save us from any danger of fire. You can see that we’re at the top of a dilapidated hotel, which is nothing but a firetrap. There isn’t a fire station anywhere near, and I can’t see any fire escapes outside the building. Lord, You know that this building would go up in flames in a second, and at this very moment it’s probably full of people falling asleep with cigarettes in their mouths…’
“By the time I finished praying, I was a nervous wreck, and I hardly slept a wink all night. Next morning, as I evaluated the evening, I realized that my bedtime prayer had focused on my negative feelings rather than on God’s assurances and promises, and I learned an important lesson: unless we pray in faith, our prayers can do more harm than good.” (From an account by Robert J. Morgan)
This story is a good reminder to me to make sure my focus is on His promises—which strengthen my faith—rather than only on what is bothering me. I know He does want to hear about what is troubling me, and I need to tell Him everything that’s on my heart, but at the same time, the strengthening of my faith comes from making His promises my central focus. As the quote says, “True faith goes into operation when there are no answers.” (Elisabeth Elliot) As difficult as it may be, faith often means focusing on the promises even if there are no visible solutions.
Next, comparing—positively! When I’m going through something big, or when a whole lot of worrisome thoughts are trying to inhabit my mind, or when my eyes are in a very painful state and are hindering or delaying my work, the Lord always reminds me to think about people who are much worse off than I am, having many more struggles, afflictions, and difficult circumstances. Usually this does it for me, because I become thankful for my little afflictions and that I don’t have to deal with the tremendous struggles that so many others have.
Something else that helps me is to think about the fact that the Lord considers the trial of our faith a beautiful, valuable thing. The Bible says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7 KJV.) If the Lord looks on the trial of our faith as having such importance and value, then it makes me feel like that’s the way I should be looking at it, too.
It certainly makes me want to not disappoint Him. Jesus expects me to believe Him, and I can’t fail Him. I know He’s looking to me to fulfill the commitment I made to Him to love Him and others, to cherish His Word, to keep His Spirit in first place in my life, to honor and respect Him for the great God that He is, and to prove it by my words and actions. I’m so indebted to Him for all He has done for me.
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