I once left my small children with my Mom-in-law for a few days. As Richard and I drove away, anxiety gripped me and I begged God over and over to be with my children.
In the middle of my begging I realised I did not have faith. Had God not promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us? (Hebrews 13:5)
Immediately I took that promise and turned it back on God (in a nice way, you understand J). Instead of begging God to protect my children and be with them, I began to thank God that He would be with them because He had promised He would. In an instant my anxiety ceased and I felt at peace.
We all know the famous “faith” verse:
“Now faith is the substance (or confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
I saw no “evidence” that day of God’s protection. If I had seen evidence, I would not have needed faith. My faith in God gave me confidence of the thing I hoped for – protection of my children.
Everyone is given a measure of faith –
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly,
That measure of faith can grow or stagnate, depending on what we do with it. And if it’s not growing, it is stagnating.
No one has the excuse of not having faith. The only reason some people have more is because theirs has grown.
It is not chance or special favour from God that makes some people’s faith great. We can make our faith grow. How do we do this?
For more than a year I exercised using weights without seeing any change in my biceps. I was using small weights because I didn’t want to end up looking like one of those buff, masculine-looking women, but my muscles weren’t changing. I switched to heavier weights and ta-da, I’m beginning to see evidence of a bicep!
Muscles need to be challenged and torn to grow. The pain we feel the day after exercising is caused by tiny tears in the muscle.The body begins to repair the tears with strands of new muscle and it becomes bulkier.
I don’t feel so weak anymore and I can lift heavier things than before.
If I had continued lifting the same small weights nothing would have changed, and I would have complained that exercising doesn’t work.
Faith is the same. It has to be challenged, stretched, torn to grow. Faith grows in the absence of the thing it is hoping for. It grows in difficulty, trial, and hardship.
It would be wise then, not to avoid situations that require more faith if we want our faith to grow.
“If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried. The more I am in a position to be tried in faith, the more I will have the opportunity of seeing God’s help and deliverance. Every fresh instance in which He helps and delivers me will increase my faith. The believer should not shrink from situations, positions or circumstances in which his faith may be tried, but he should cheerfully embrace them as opportunities to see the hand of God stretched out in help and deliverance. Thus his faith will be strengthened.” [i]George Muller
The weekend I left my children behind was the beginning of a faith journey. Since that day I have had my faith tested over and over and the tests have become harder and harder.
God is always stretching the faith we do have to make it stronger and take it to the next level. If, instead of complaining about our trials, we submitted to them, our faith would be strengthened.
We can choose not to avoid difficult circumstances so that our faith can grow.
Faith comes by choice. A choice to take God at His word and to look away from circumstances. I recently heard someone say,
“Worry puts our circumstances between us and God. Faith puts God between us and our circumstances.”
How true! Worry separates us from God, while faith draws us nearer to Him.
It’s really simple – hard, but simple – to choose to trust God.
“I do beg of you toHannah Whitall Smith
recognise, then, the extreme simplicity of faith; namely, that it is nothing more nor less than just believing God when He says He either has done something for us, or will do it, and then trusting Him to keep His word.” [ii]
When we make the choice to trust God we make it possible for Him to prove Himself to us again and again. Every time we see Him come through for us, our faith will be strengthened.
But, without our choice to trust Him, God can’t come in and work for us. He knows He’s trustworthy. He knows He loves us. He knows what He’s done to save us. He knows what He can do for us. We have to take the initiative and choose to trust the goodness of His heart.
Related: 4 Ways to Grow as a Christian
Our faith connects us to the Person – God – who has all the power to
We should get to know God because knowing His character will enable us to trust Him. The Bible tells us what He is like:
“God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 (KJV)
God keeps His word, unlike man. We can rest our souls on that.
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”Oswald Chambers
“The power to believe a promise depends entirely on our faith in the one who promises.” [iii]Andrew Murray
Faith is trusting God, believing that He loves us and knows what is best for us, and that He will give us what is best for us, but not necessarily what we want.
“When a believer really trusts anything, he ceases to worry about the thing he has trusted. And when he worries, it is a plain proof that he does not trust.” [iv]Hannah Whitall Smith
True faith = peace. When you feel anxious, know that there is still some part of you that’s trying to be in control. Some part of you that is saying, “I want this.” Or, “I don’t want this.”
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”George Muller
When we daily choose to trust the One who created us and died for us, and are willing to have our faith stretched so that it can grow through use, our faith will become robust and able to carry us through dark and difficult times.
How is your faith doing? Does it need some exercise? Are you choosing to let go and simply trust God?
[i] The Autobiography of George Muller, 159
[ii] The Christian’s Secret of A Happy Life, 67
[iii] Believing Prayer
[iv] The Christian’s Secret of A Happy Life, 71