What is faith?

What is faith?

The Struggle with Faith

What is faith? “It is the trust, assurance and confidence in God” (Jim Haeeffele, What is Faith). This area has been one tremendous test for me. One of the biggest struggles of my faith have been questioning whether God is real, whether God hears my prayers, and what am I doing wrong?

All of my life, the church has been a strong foundation within my family and upbringing. We traveled to church almost every Sunday. The importance of service and love were expressed, as members guided me into ushering, singing in the choir, leading youth groups, giving Sunday speeches, and more. Even as an adult, service is still very important to me. However, at this point, the decisions were mine to make as to how my contributions would be invested in the church. My faith was in action.

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However, as my journey of life continued, more experiences arrived. It felt as though after eleven grade, my life was not going according to plan and my efforts were in vain. I recall a night as I slept in my truck because I didn’t have the money to buy a hotel room or pay my extended stay fee for the week, another series of unfortunate events leading to that moment.

Crouched down and hoping no one would see and question whether I was alive, drunk, or a number of things other than just having a hard time with life’s resources. Living check to check after having surgery, a boss that didn’t honor my FMLA request causing my funds to be depleted and losing my job and apartment, and so many other things had gotten me here. It was a bad year. And this particular night, pay day was in a few days. The goal was to survive until that point. Don’t even get me started on shuffling this experience with my kids and their dad. It was a true test of my faith.

Matthew 17:20 kept coming to my mind. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain. ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” My faith was present so why was I in this position. Why had there been so many experiences that continued to keep me feeling broken, unheard, and unloved by God? Is God really real or a myth designed to control people?

What was I doing wrong? Why was I being punished? Prayer? Daily. Active in church? Of course. Authentically and lovingly, I motivated and encouraged others. Nothing was coming together, only falling apart. It was a strain to believe in a God that wasn’t listening to me.

Many times I thought why even try. Information was being presented to me from many sources that God wasn’t real and a work of fiction. Chasing truth caused me to follow a trail seeking answers, demanding concrete proof of God’s existence, and trying to remove my own doubts. My faith was struggling.

There are times questions still surface if God hears me or is punishing me. The biggest struggle sometimes is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is here, protecting me, providing, and loving me. There are times when I feel God has finally heard my prayer and I’m making progress… and that gets derailed and I’m back at square one.

No, my relationship isn’t based on giving me a reward in order to believe. No, it is the desire for clarity more than anything. Have you ever heard people say God told them to do this or that? Well, I haven’t heard that voice.  However, my dreams while sleeping have put me in places that said, “God I hear you.” There have been many situations in which gratitude overflows for all the times that I have survived or been spared. Wisdom has been sought on how to use that knowledge to guide and help others.

Faith. It is exactly that. Believing when you can’t always see something but  knowing that a Power and love greater than you is watching over you. And it is all in God’s plan and for a purpose. Finally, my mind and heart grasped the idea that everything will not be understood, but remain focused toward the goal.  Externally, my life is still a work in progress. Yes, doubts still surface. My reward daily has been tapping into a place of peace in the midst of a world that can be unforgiving and unyielding from the weight it can bring into your life. My faith in God is my peace.

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I ALMOST QUIT

I ALMOST QUIT

Psalm 73:1-2 (KJV) “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.”

A couple of years ago, my marriage ended and I went through a really difficult time. I was extremely discouraged in my fight against sin and I was ready to throw in the towel. It was too hard. An entire lifetime of battling against sin just seemed too daunting, too tiring. When do I catch a break? How could I possibly “not grow weary in doing good,” as it’s written in Galatians 6:9?

The feeling of shame, guilt, and share frustration overtook me as I struggled to come to terms with my miserable life. With sleepless nights and worrisome days, a lot of patient encouragement from my mom, I soon realized that the source of my problems was that I had lost sight of my goal and the promises of God over my life.

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

This was coming true in my life. I had become too focused on my life on this earth and forgot to look forward to eternity. How can a soldier possibly be taken up with the affairs of normal men when in battle?

I remember thinking at the time, that even if living for God made every day on this earth an overwhelming struggle, even if I felt wretched for the rest of my life, it would still be worth it in the end when I meet Jesus and received my reward.

So, I did it. I went all in. I gave up everything and gave my heart properly to God. I told myself, “Just one short lifetime of misery and then I can enter into the joy that God has promised me.”

But a remarkable thing happened. Instead of being divorced and miserable, I became happy! I experienced for myself the words that God said to Abraham in Genesis 51:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Those dark, heavy feelings would still like to take hold of me when the going gets tough, but I know now that the source of those feelings is unbelief in God’s promises. And I can overcome them by choosing to believe God’s Word and fixing my eyes on Him.

Don’t Quit! When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trading seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are high and you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must, but DON’T YOU QUIT!

Life is strange with its twists and turns as every one of us will come to learn. Many failures come about when you might have won but had to stick it out; Don’t give up though the pace seems slow— You may succeed with another blow.

You never can tell just how close you are, it may be near when it seems so far. So, stick to the fight when you are hardest hit— It’s when things seem worst that you MUST NOT QUIT!

​ Be blessed