Friday, March 11, 2016

Keeping the Faith

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” 
Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Have you ever been in a season when your life’s circumstances are inviting you, actually requiring you, to live out what you say you believe? Sometimes we have to actually have faith and trust that God is going to work things out, even though we don’t know how.

I am in such a season right now, as a few different situations are happening over which I have very little, if any, control. As a type-A control freak, this is not a comfortable place for me to be! But I am reminding myself that I must trust the One who is ultimately in control. It’s through these times of testing our faith that we can and should draw closer to God as we wait for Him to heal, fix or work out whatever comes next.

Here are a few steps we can take to keep the faith as we wait:

Acknowledge Your Fear
If we look at the root cause of our anxiety, OCD or lack of faith, fear is often the culprit. It’s even the cause of the fall of man. When the serpent told Adam and Eve that God misled them about why they couldn’t eat from the tree of life, Adam and Eve had a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), so they partook. Fear can make us humans do ridiculous things!

When I look back over my life, I have numerous examples of how fear made me behave hastily and/or ridiculously. (Click here to read a post I wrote called "Oh My Baggage.")

Now that I’m aware of what fear can make me do, I do my best to acknowledge it and move past it. I tell myself something like this: I am scared right now. I am fearful because I am not in control of something that is or potentially will affect my life. So I will trust in the One who is in control of all. I will not allow fear to steal my peace. No matter what happens, nothing can ever separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:38).

Battle Against Worry
If you’ve heard me speak before, you may have heard me say that I am a recovering worrier! I spent many years of my life worrying about so much, most of which never happened! I am so thankful that the Lord revealed to me all that my worrying robbed me of and that He’s helped me to battle against it.

There are a few ways that I do this:

1.      Memorize Scripture: When you memorize Scripture, you can use it to remind yourself of God’s truth when you need it. Here are a few of my favorites:
·        Philippians 4:6
·        Matthew 6:25-27
·        2 Timothy 1:7
·        1 Peter 5:7
2.      Pray: When I am worried, prayer helps me to process all that I’m feeling and thinking. It allows me to share my heart with the Lord and rely on Him for help. Through prayer, I’ve realized that it’s okay to be concerned about something, but not to be consumed by it. When I have a concern, I can talk to God about it and leave it in His hands. When I am worried, it’s as though I talk to God about it, but then continue to carry that huge weight around with me. I feel anxious and exhausted when I operate this way. So I try to pray and leave my concerns with Him instead of worrying.

3.      Recall Ways God Has Proven Faithful in the Past: I enjoy reading my old journals to remind me of how God has taken care of me and that He’s answered my prayers. (He doesn’t always answer them the way I hoped, but nevertheless He answers.) Seeing God at work in my past encourages me to trust Him with the future.

Live One Day at a Time
When I am facing a trial, I often live in the future by playing out all possible outcomes in my mind. I become so preoccupied with the future that I don’t live in the present. Anyone else?

I have this quote on the wall in my dining room: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not only does it remind me of the Lord ’s Prayer, but it also reminds me of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness in Exodus 16. The Lord took care of their physical needs on a daily basis: He provided manna from heaven as their food, but they could only collect enough to eat for that day.  (The only exception was the day before the Sabbath when they could collect two days’ worth). If they tried to store more, it would rot.

I believe God designed it this way to teach them daily dependence on Him. We American Christians have a hard time doing that because so many of our needs and wants are easily met because of modern conveniences or financial prosperity.

Through trials we can learn to depend on God for our daily needs, not only physical or financial, but also our spiritual needs like love, peace, encouragement, forgiveness or grace. When you’re struggling with living for tomorrow, remind yourself to ask the Lord for what you need for today.

I hope that you’ll use these helpful steps the next time you’re in a season that tests or stretches your faith.

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