Faith is not for the Fainthearted
If you have read my past posts, you will know that having my christian faith has not been easy. Believing in God has not made me exempt from trials or made for me an easy life here on Earth.
I can remember praying that I would have great faith. I should have known from reading about Abraham (Genesis 22 - the father of faith) that this would not be an easy journey. I have prayed hard for things and it has not come to pass. I've had to trust God that what I asked for, was not right for me or for us, not that He was being unkind, unjust or that I was undeserving. I needed to trust in Gods timing for his answers.
I think I thought that having great faith would mean the ability to pray for outrageous things and have faith that they would be answered. I thought a strong voice would come down and tell me what to do and faith meant that no matter what happened, I could believe in the voice of God who had told me what was happening/going to happen.
John 20:29 Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.
In my journey, God has taught me that He can answer prayers - both big and small - in amazing ways but I have to trust Him. I know and have experienced how good and powerful He is. I have had to learn not to put those longed for prayers before Him. I have heard Gods voice speak to me directly but its never been as an instruction on how He will answer a prayer and what I am to have faith for. God wants me to trust Him and put my faith in Him, that He is good and will deliver.
The prayers could be for really good things but if I value them above Him, then no matter how good the thing is, its become an idol (a God). God does not want his followers to worship idols. Idols can be anything - it could be a marriage, child, house, career, mission - Anything you place above God, anything you believe would make you complete/happier than waiting or trusting in Him.
Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other Gods before me
I'm still learning to be patient. Its hard to discern at times if God is answering not yet or its not for you, but I am learning. I've learnt to keep praying, keep in conversation and I know God will answer my prayer. Sometimes I continually pray through, so the enemy cannot get a foothold on the situation (which is more for my benefit) but I also know one prayer is enough for God to hear and act. Other times I can leave it with Him and wait. There are many examples of prayer through the bible where His people prayed and fasted relentlessly over a period of time, they prayed and waited or God instantly answered prayers. There is no formula, prayer is your relationship with God. God invites us to cast our anxieties and concerns on Him
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you
God knows me, He created me, therefore I do not have to hide or pretend to be holier than I am. I come before Him honestly, He knows my heart and He knows what I'm thinking, so why try and be something I'm not.
Psalm 139: O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
I know God is good, He is a good Father and that I am his beloved child. He does want whats best for his child and as Creator of this world, I can trust Him to know what that is. Deep down my feelings may not always align at first but I have a choice to believe in His goodness and mercy - to wait and trust in Him or to not. Whilst I may not like something, I know that trusting in Him, fills me with peace. I know from previous experience and our relationship that I can depend upon Him.
Luke 11:11-13 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
Through Jesus' life, He spent a lot of time in prayer and He went through such awful trials and pain but He knew it was for good. I can look to the bible and read for myself what Jesus went through to save me, to save you, to save us - His church. I know He knows hardship and how it felt, He is not a faceless God asking us to do things, He himself would not or have no experience of. He is good and knowing this, wholeheartedly is how I cling to Him and have faith.
I know that God will not contradict himself so I can believe in His word, the bible and can pray those promises over me. I can have faith that God will answer those promises because His words do not return void.
Isaiah 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Knowing this helps me to get through difficult times because I can depend on scripture, Gods word. I can use my faith to help support me through difficult times and circumstances, which comes from spending time in the bible and in church. Having a relationship, knowing I am fully accepted as I am and openly invited to call upon someone, whenever I desire or need, is of great comfort. Believing the bible, means I also know my time on Earth is short, compared to living in eternity with Him, when all sadness and pain will decease.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him
Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory
Whilst I would say faith is not for the fainthearted and does not exempt us from trials, there are many blessings to be had, here on earth. As I said before, God does want good things for us and we have the hope He will continue working in us till the day Jesus returns. Through these trials He is refining us, there is a reason for them. Through our blessings, He is teaching us, there are reasons for them. I believe God gives us a full life, which includes both the ups and downs, times of sadness and joy. As humans we experience a unique relationship with Him, it is amazing!
John 10:10 I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].