I want to live like Jesus. I hope that I willingly surrender in order to seek Him more. I wish I didn’t crave the things of this world. But I have a problem. There is a war going on inside. I cannot figure out how to manipulate God to give me exactly what I want and when I want it. And if I’m going to live the kind of life that is pleasing to God…then I need a heart transplant. I am going to need more faith. Bucket loads of it. Which, by the way, is sold out on Amazon and the world’s knock-off version doesn’t quite satisfy.
We often get stuck right here. We can feel the tension rising inside. We think we want more faith, yet we act like it is in short supply. Which begs the question, “What is faith?” and “How do I get more?”
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Unfortunately, many of us have mistaken belief for faith because we’ve been disappointed with the results of our prayers. We think faith is something we can muster up. We try harder. We pray longer.
Faith differs from belief. We can believe a lot of different things. Some right. Some wrong. We can be persuaded. We can change our mind. We can back up our reasoning with theories and explanations. But if we are not careful, we can apply the same technique to God. We can cut and paste Scripture in an effort to get God to perform. This is not authentic faith.
Mark 11:22 exhorts us to, “Have faith in God.” And it becomes challenging for us to place our hopes, our dreams, and desires in the hands of an unseen God. We fear His plans will not align with ours. His will may be contrary to our own. Our safe, comfortable, and predictable life may be rattled. But when we finally step out and take a leap of faith and discover that God is real, we are changed. And this is my pray for each of us…that we be changed more and more in order to live a life that brings glory to God.
God is God. He knows what He is doing. Our prayers release God’s power for God’s purposes. Our faith has substance when it is placed in God and God alone. When we abandon our own made-up idea of how our prayers should be answered and put our trust in God.
God doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” answer to our prayers. His ways are always higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). His plans stretch farther than our immediate circumstances. He is mysterious and does as He wills. The one thing God is most after is His glory because it is how we come to know God is real. And even in instances when we suffer, we must trust that God will somehow be glorified.
We must come smack dab and face the fact that our faith is not based on how we feel. Our feelings are fleeting and changing and moody (just being honest), and cannot see with clarity the confidence that faith provides. If we want to be people who pray powerful prayers…the kind of prayers that change lives…then we have to have our faith grounded in God’s Word. Only then will we be able to stand amidst the chaos in our lives. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
God doesn’t do things as we would expect. In fact, from our earthly vantage point, life seems excruciatingly hard sometimes. Throughout Scripture, we see that there must be another way….a way that seems absurdly difficult and involves the desertion of our well thought-out plans and assumed privileges. We see Israelites who aimlessly wander in the wilderness (Exodus 18) and a giant who was slayed by a mere child (1 Samuel 17). We see a man swallowed up by a fish for three days (Jonah 1) and a donkey who has the ability to speak words (Numbers 22). We see the mouths of lions shut up (Daniel 6), and men who walk in the fire (Daniel 3). I really could go on and on. But most absurd of all is that God would make Himself man and consider us a part of His divine plan. He sent Jesus, His very own Son, to be brutally murdered on our behalf. God has given us everything at such a great cost. Maybe it is time we reconsider how we think our lives should go. Maybe it is time to surrender, and stop putting up such a fight. Maybe it is time that we recognize that God’s ways are always better than ours.
The only way we get more faith is from the source Himself. God is the initiator. Our faith grows from experiencing God firsthand. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Are you able to give God glory in the midst of your suffering? Faith involves risk, which means sometimes we have to stretch and believe that God is good.