In good times it’s easy to talk about faith. It’s easy to see why we believe and encourage others to “keep the faith” when they’re feeling down. So how about periods of prolonged suffering or surprise attacks? How do we keep the faith in tough times?
I pondered this question just yesterday. After a long stint of peace and tranquility, yesterday proved challenging with flaring emotions, less-than-graceful communication and the temptation to — yet again — go over details. With all the reading, all the praying and all the practice, yesterday was overwhelming, and I found myself begging God to drop me a line.
Nothing happened. I prayed over and over for Him to bring relief and change the scene. Nothing. I felt discouraged, depressed… and impatient. Why wasn’t He answering my prayers? Why wasn’t He showing Himself? And then I remembered something: We grow in our faith, and it takes time. The struggle strengthens us.
Our faith isn’t tested in the good times; our faith is tested during trials and times of challenge. When we ask, “Where are you, God?” and hear crickets chirping, that’s when we’re left to decide. Will we believe anyway–cultivating a more mature faith? Or will we decide He’s not there, falling back on all the voices we’ve heard in the past?
Sometimes we can see the temptation at work in these moments; sometimes we can’t. We take forward steps and backward steps (and side steps and missteps), but we’re growing when our number of forward steps become greater.
3 Ways to Keep the Faith Right Now
1. Lean Into the Faith You Have
Choose to remain faithful when there is no visible finish line and no feeling of relief. Lean into it and bear through the discomfort that comes from trusting in what you cannot see. It’s not taking a risk–it’s strengthening your faith. Think of a yoga stretch or new skill; getting to the next level requires a time of discomfort while pushing forward. You will feel (and eventually see) the difference. “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
2. Pray for Strength and Guidance
During the discomfort, pray that God guides your steps and keeps you strong. Temptation will sway in and out to mislead and falsely appease you, but pray right through it. “Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
And if you fall for it… which we all do at times… start again. Keep choosing God over and over and over.
3. Remain Planted in Good Soil
When you feel the struggle heavy on your back, bury yourself in more good soil. Pop into a church before starting the day, read the Bible, put some encouraging messages where you can see them, attend a service, watch an online sermon, ask someone you love to pray with you and meditate on positive thoughts. As my husband tells me, stay in the Word. The tough times will hit us, but we are living for something bigger.
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15)
Blessings to you this week!