Friday, July 7, 2017

Having Weak Faith

I have often struggled with insecurity concerning my own faith. My faith often feels so weak that when I look at the faith of others whom I know or have read about, erroneously comparing my faith to theirs, I often feel that there is something very, very wrong.

Before I attended Bible College, I had been without a job for nearly an entire year. My employment insurance was running out, I could not find a job, and I had no way to pay my rent so that I could continue living in my apartment. I had applied to Bible College two weeks before it started. According to the financial assistant, it would take 6 to 8 weeks for my request for government aid to be looked at and rubber stamped. The Quarter Life Crisis group at my church was going up to Perry Sound for a retreat that weekend, which I was going to avoid due to my worries. Somehow, I was able to muster enough faith to pack up my apartment faithfully and move it to my mother's attic, while also deciding to go on the retreat and have a good time, leaving the results of my predicament up to God since I could not control a single aspect of it. Early the next week, my government aid was approved and that Friday I would be on my way out East.

I have tried to duplicate that step of faith in other instances of my life, yet I continuously find myself failing. How was I able to let go of everything then and trust completely in God, yet other times I try to do the exact same thing, I fail. Sometimes I am able to exercise faith in that way, while other times when I desire to do so, I am unable to. This frequently depresses me and I feel as if something is very, very wrong.

Many biblical characters—Abraham, Jacob, David, Jonah, John the Purifier, and Peter—were strong and steadfast in their faith, yet dwindled in their faith at times. Their moments of disbelief or weak faith did not disqualify them from God's saving grace and mercy. Feeble faith may be permissible, but it certainly is not ideal. God's Word never affirms it. If we examine the Gospels, we can see a number of times where Jesus calls out His disciples on their lack of faith.
"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!" Matt. 6:30

"He said to them, 'Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm." Matt. 8:26

"Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?'" Matt. 14:31

"But Jesus, aware of this, said, 'You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?'" Matt. 16:8

"And He said to them, 'Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.'" Matt. 17:20

"But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!" Luke 12:28

I realize that it is not the intensity of our faith that saves, but the object of our faith. I also realize that weak faith robs us of our joy and peace. Nevertheless, our doubt can hinder God's supernatural activity in our lives. Take Peter for example: "Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matt. 14:29-30). However, it is God's good pleasure to manifest His power through His people's confidence in Him.

I have often cried out to God, "I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). I have even prayed that God would increase my measure of faith, yet see no change. I desire to have the kind of faith that other giants of the faith had and demonstrated, yet it seems whenever I try to do just that, doubt creeps at the door. As I have said, I have tried mimicking precisely what I did before attending Bible College, trying to let go of what I cannot control and leaving it in God's hands, yet for some reason it does not work the same way it did then. We are to pray in faith without doubting (James 1:6), because the doubting person should expect to receive nothing (James 1:7), yet the harder I try to do exactly that, it does not seem to work. Apparently, faith is not some innate force within us that we can muster up by our will. Understandably, it is a supernatural gift (Eph. 2:8). We require God's help in order to believe in Him as fully as we ought to.

Weak faith is not to be an excuse. God has set His standard in the New Testament and we are to strive for that goal. No, we will never achieve it in our life, but that does not mean we do not have to strive for it. We also do not get to reset the goal post by lowering it to where we think is a good achievable level. If a high jumper lowered the bar to his/her ankles, would jumping over it be such an amazing feat? Of course not! So why do professing Christians think anything less than striving for holiness is acceptable? God makes the rules—not you. Feeble faith may be permissible, but it certainly is not ideal.We are never to settle for anything less than God's standards. If we do, perhaps it would be wise to behoove us to examine ourselves to see if we are truly of the faith, because quite likely we are merely false converts.

I have no answers on how to increase one's faith, apart from what I discover from reading the Word of God and praying. God's methods are always simple and always work precisely how He intends them to. In our arrogance, we think that daily Bible reading and prayer is way to simple, just like we think preaching the Word is way to simple and end up developing sinful practices to try and fill church pews, which only ever succeeds by filling the pews with goats instead of sheep. The fact is, daily Bible reading and prayer is simple!
People reject the idea of salvation as a free gift because it is way too simple. If we examine Scripture closely, God's methods are always simple. God is not in the business of complicating things. We are! Why do we always try to make God's methods harder than they are or than they need to be? Becoming like a child entails accepting the simple methods that God has orchestrated. As I pointed out in You Won't Stop Sinning Until You Start Walking By the Spirit, God's methods truly are simple. In fact, much of that article applies directly here, too.

If we do precisely what Scripture requires of us, life will be so much better. The question is, will we? God's methods for dealing with our predicaments are very simple, but our foolish arrogance and futile thinking keep getting in the way and making it more complicated than it needs to be. Will we stop ourselves, get out of the way, and trust God and accept His simple method, or will we continue to be our own best obstacle and continue getting in the way of where God would have us to be in our faith and walk? We are our own worst enemies. How do we move from weak faith to stronger faith? Simple! Daily Bible reading and prayer. "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). The Spirit gives and strengthens faith by means of God's Word, the Bible. If you never open it, if you never read it, how can you expect to grow in faith? How can you expect to know God? "Everything pertaining to life and godliness" is achieved "through the true knowledge of Him who called us" (2 Pet. 1:3). How do you know God and know more of Him? Through daily Bible reading and prayer. Simple!