I post things on social media sites such as this blog because it is my way of giving back some of the encouragement that others have so freely offered to me. It makes my heart so very happy when someone tells me that some little thing I have written has helped them in some tiny way.
As a result of reading some of my posts, a few weeks ago an individual posed a question to me that left me at a loss for words. Ever since this person asked me the question, I have daily pondered what the answer might be, not even knowing myself what it was. The question was, “How did you come to your strong faith?”
I would have normally dashed off a quick reply, but this has given me great pause. Is my faith indeed one that would be considered “strong”? If so, how did I come to it? The first thing I pondered was what exactly is “faith”? What does it mean to have it? The best definition I’ve found is in the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we do not see.” How does one go about that? How can we be so sure of what we hope for?
Upon much soul searching, I have decided that my faith is certainly what has gotten me thus far in life, & also what helped me to survive the most difficult & challenging year of my life up to this point. My faith in my God is what has helped me keep going in spite of personal illnesses, multiple cancer scares, personal struggles, past persecution in the business world for adhering to ethics, death of a sibling at an early age, raising of children, loneliness, betrayal, & most recently, dissolution of a marriage that lasted over a quarter of a century. When you have lived that long, there will undoubtedly be many trials that you will have been called upon to face.
The question is, what tools do you use to help you face them? The greatest one of all is one’s faith.
My grandmother took me to Church, & taught me to pray from the time I was a young child, & I have called upon God every day & every night for His protections & provisions for as long as my memory can recall. I have had my share of doubt filled days, & I must say that they are a poor comparison to the days where I allowed faith to reign. Doubt is a design of the Devil, who is the author of confusion & lies. But it is a human condition that I think all encounter at some time or another. The key to overcoming doubt is simply to just believe. The way that one’s belief grows is multifaceted. I think that whoever “earnestly seeks” God will find that their faith grows. We find Him whenever we speak to Him through prayer; whenever we study the Bible; whenever we witness to others about what He has wrought in our lives; whenever we listen to someone’s witness; whenever we worship Him, whether it be in a Church service, in our homes, or out in nature; whenever we overcome adversity & especially whenever we see His miracles take place. (I DO believe in modern day miracles. Ask me some time, & I will be glad to share some that have happened in my own life.) I think that, just as every single human being is unique, each person’s faith will grow in different ways, or perhaps in a combination of ways.
As I reflect upon how God has ALWAYS provided for me, & ALWAYS protected me, it gives me courage to have faith. It requires courage to believe in something that you cannot see, & the future is something that none of us can every truly know in advance.
In trying to find an answer to the question my friend asked of me, I re-read Hebrews Chapter 11, the first verse of which I quoted above, & which is a frequently cited definition of the word faith. Reading this chapter, one finds tale after tale of where Biblical heroes were persecuted, hungry, destitute, & in some instances even gave their lives in quest of their religion. This book tells of Cain, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, & Isaac, & about the many famous struggles that they faced. If one reads to the end, one finds words in verse 39 words that are a bit disappointing. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” This is why it is important to take things in context, & to read an entire story before attempting a summation. For it is the very last & final verse of Hebrews 11, verse 40, that sums it all up, “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
I truly believe that God has “better plans” for us! For the job that does not work out, there is another, better job out there for you! For the award that someone else receives, there is a better reward, a greater recognition awaiting you! For the illness that wracks your body with pain, there is another body that will one day transform you where you will feel no pain. For that broken relationship that devastates you, another, better one is right around the proverbial corner! Some of the “better” things will be of THIS world. Some of them will be literal, while others will be figurative. Some of the greater things we will not see until we see the NEXT world. That, my friends, is how I keep my faith strong. I reflect. I remember. I read. I pray. I listen. I speak. But most importantly, I BELIEVE.
I reflect on what God has done in the lives of Biblical figures, in the lives of people around me, & in my own life. I remember the times when something fell apart, but in its place something much better appeared. I read the Bible & inspirational writings. I pray – a lot. I listen to my friends on the days when doubt creeps in & my faith is weak, & allow them to re-kindle the fires when they burn down to embers. I speak to others who need encouragement, & often find encouragement myself in the very words that God gives me to share with them. I believe, for I know the misery that accompanies disbelief.
I am convinced that believing, just like being happy or loving someone, is a personal, daily choice. I CHOOSE to love & to be happy. I choose to believe & have faith. For I know that whatever is taken away from me, “something better is planned”. And whatever God has planned is always so much more awesome than anything my own mind could conceive. If I do not get what I hoped for, then I will get something better! If not in this world, then in the next. I pray every day that my faith will be larger than my doubt that day. That is how I find faith. May your faith grow stronger daily as you seek God. Better things await all who believe!