Faith is such a hard thing to describe. And since it’s hard to describe, it’s hard to find. And since it’s hard to find, it’s hard to apply. And since it’s hard to apply, well why do we even bother trying to understand it in the first place?
Sometimes we fall back on “faith” as a preprogrammed response to a broken spirit. When we see someone struggling, we gently remind them, “Just have faith.” Sometimes we use it as a motivational phrase. When our friend is finding it hard to decide between Company A and Company B, our response is, “Just have faith!!!!” Sometimes we see it as a reason to scold ourselves, to remind ourselves that we are where we are because of our failures. When life moves faster than our minds can keep up with, it’s obviously because, “We just don’t have faith!”
But I don’t think “faith” is used in the right context in any of those situations. It’s not a fall-back. It’s not a mindless, effortless mindset. It’s not a magic trick.
Faith is how we live. It’s how we walk. It’s how we get by in this life. And it takes effort. Intentional effort.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
We talk about how hard our lives are all the time. We have to work. We have to study. We have to raise children. We have to cook. We have to clean. We have to make decisions. We have to care for sick loved ones. We have to do stuff for church. We have to pay bills. And all while being a good testimony for His renown. Yes. Life is stressful. But when did life ever become more important than the One who gave life? When did any one struggle ever become more focus-worthy than the One who promises to carry those struggles?
I think we’ve lost sight of truth here.
I have lost sight of truth.
None of my struggles are so important that they should receive my attention 24/7. Nothing I face in this world will ever be so worthy of my attention that every other thought might be pushed back to the recesses of my mind. If I find myself in this place, then I can know with certainty that something is wrong. Because I don’t belong there. The Lord did not put me on this earth to run around in circles on a life-sized hamster wheel of human proportions. That’s what not having faith looks like. Running and running and never getting anywhere. Thinking and analyzing and doubting. To what avail?
I’ve found myself in this place countless times. Even now. I keep asking, wondering, over-thinking, over-analyzing. When something consumes my thoughts to that extent, I know I’m in a bad place. Because my thoughts shouldn’t be 100% about my struggles. My thoughts should 100% be focused on the Lord. On His work. Past, present, future.
When we allow the struggles of this life to overwhelm our minds to such lengths that our struggles consume us, we must recognize that we are doing our God a great disservice. In fact, not only does it show that our focus has shifted from the rightful Recipient of our attention onto our own selves, but it also shows lack of faith. I can’t say that I’m trusting in the Lord if I can’t stop worrying over my struggles. I can’t say that I’m trusting in the Lord if I’m constantly replaying every word, every scene, every reaction related to the struggle I’m facing.
I can’t be trusting and worrying at the same time. Those two behaviors are independent of one another. They cannot coexist.
Faith doesn’t mean we will never have questions. Faith doesn’t mean we will always have all the answers. Faith accepts we will have both the presence of questions and the absence of answers. Faith means that we can set our burdens down at the feet of Jesus. Faith means that we can unload ourselves from the weight we carry without ever taking our eyes off of Jesus. Faith is knowing that even though our struggles will remain for an indefinite period of time, He will remain longer. Faith is knowing that even though we don’t know what struggles lay in wait for the days ahead, He will be before them and He will continue after them.
Struggles are temporary. They seem like they never end. But they do. We just tend to over-dramatize things sometimes because it’s hard for us to think of our 80 years on this planet as a quickly vanishing vapor (WATCH: Francis Chan’s Rope Illustration). There one second, gone the next. But in light of eternity, that’s really how long our lives are. And if our lives are here and then gone within the blink of an eye, then consider how much more short-lived our struggles are!
He is eternal. No beginning, no end. No struggle in this life is more worthy of attention than our Lord Jesus. When doubts arise, when our faith is put to the test, we must turn to Him. In the midst of all our troubles, we have to focus on Him. Because He’s the only Truth. We can’t just run in circles on our human-sized hamster wheels for the rest of our lives.
Lay aside the burdens. Fall at His feet. And don’t ever get up. That is the only place we should ever be. Bowed at the feet of Jesus.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7