Student Series: Faith Not in Ourselves
How often do we love to be reminded of Gods glory in the good, but can’t “feel” him in the rough seasons of life? We might see the Lord powerfully move on a church retreat, but when we are filled with doubt, shame, or loneliness, we flat out struggle to know the God we once clung so closely to. This has often been my experience in my darkest moments – an inability to “feel” God. Too often I put myself and my emotions in the driver’s seat and forget that I do not serve a God of feelings, but a God of faithfulness, and He does the most powerful work right there in our wounds.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself”
2 Timothy 2:13
God is faithful. We only need the faith to be reminded of who he is. Hebrews 11 reminds us of God’s faithfulness and our need of faith
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” Hebrews 11:1
God has shown us through his miraculous works recorded in his word. His promises remain constant. In the fiery furnace, God was there (Daniel 3). When Elijah was the only prophet left, he called on the Lord and our God answered him (1 Kings 18). Cornered by an Egyptian army and an ocean, God splits the Red Sea and delivers his people (Exodus 14). As you turned against him, wanting nothing to do with him, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8).
We will meet trials. We will be asked to bow to idols. We will feel trapped, cornered, and alone. But our faith, not our feeling, gives us of something greater. God’s word – which is perfect and reviving (Psalm 19:7) – teaches us of a faithful God who has given us a God-breathed scripture to remind us of his enveloping presence for comfort in every situation.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The comfort we receive through faith results in a heart to comfort others. We see God’s strength and love poured out to us, His love that consumes us, comforts us, and connects us, and it moves us to share that love with others (even – especially – when we are broken).
I worked at a camp this summer, and one of the directors used a phrase that has stuck with me. He said to “lead with a limp.” These words have since stuck in my mind. Maybe Christians should live with a limp. I am so broken, and I see the Lord display my flaws every day. I think the point my director was trying to make was that our struggles and imperfections don’t need to be hidden, they can be shared with others. Maybe we’re better leaders when we’re leading out of God’s strength instead of our own. Our shame is allergic to the light and if we can swallow our pride we will see the Lord work in our humility. God raises leaders all around us and leading without authenticity is discouraging to those under our care who are struggling themselves.
Paul, a good friend of mine, told me a story about two of his friends; one of those friends was struggling. Paul went out to eat with his buddy (the one apparently not struggling), who told him that he wanted to tell their friend who was struggling exactly what he needed to do to fix everything. Paul had a different suggestion. He said that maybe instead of throwing out easy answers, he could eat with his friend, enjoy their time together, and tell him that he loves him. More importantly, that God loves him.
I think a lot of times people seek quick fixes, but what they really need is to be reminded of Christ’s love for them. I am that struggler a lot of times, and maybe it’s my stubbornness, but if fixing my problems were so easy, I probably would have done it already. What I need in times of struggle is to be loved and to be reminded of God’s love for me.
Author Bob Goff says that “Loving people the way Jesus did is always great theology.”
We need faith in our Savior at the forefront of our minds, and with that faith that we are heard by God in our prayers. I think for me this is hardest. I pray almost as a wish or “this would be nice” instead of faith that God hears and answers.
“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers, God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God” (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker)
We are children of a father who delights in answering his kid’s prayers. He often just wants us to be bold enough to believe he will answer them. Especially since he has never given us a reason not to. Maybe God doesn’t always answer our prayers how we want him to, yet we must have confidence that he hears them and his will is greater as we are reminded he honors them.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”
2 Timothy 1:7
God himself is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who deserves to be known in his grandness and splendor, and deserves our ultimate faith in him, whether or not we always feel it. We have so little faith in him when he has so much faith in us. He hasn’t given us all the answers. But he hasn’t given us fear either. Have faith that when your heart is fixed on the Lord you can answer the call. He believes you will.
“Count it all joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith will produce steadfastness” James 1:2.