Tag Archives: doubt

Growing faith

“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.”  2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NLT

Growing faith leads to abounding love. How does faith grow? One way is through persecution or trials, when we are forced to fully rely on God. How can we as followers of Christ, abounding in love, help those who are embroiled in such a predicament? Several years ago I began the practice of praying for someone who seemed to be wandering in a proverbial “desert wilderness.” I reasoned, if Jesus’ wilderness experience lasted forty days, then hat should be the measure of my commitment.  My forty day commitment to praying for someone is often done without telling them.  It builds up my faith to see God answering prayer in the life of another person.

praying-1319101_960_720Dear God, strengthen my faith by your mighty power. Remind me my strength comes from every word that comes out of your mouth. Guide my words and deeds to bring glory to your name. Show me someone who may be suffering, whether they’re facing a trial or struggling with doubts about their faith.  

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”  Thessalonians 1:11 NLT

 

A flower’s notion

hyacinth-3284036_960_720.jpg

Cold and dark surroundings have preserved me in the earth.
A predetermined message urges, “rise up from the dirt.”

Should I exercise caution as I push my way into the unknown?
No, I must not doubt my purpose for my beauty must be shown.

There are those who say, “You’re just an insignificant flower.”
They offer a convincing argument, “beauty yields no power.”

What do they know I reasoned, I’m part of a designers plan.
Then, strolling towards me I spot two lovers holding hands.

2018  Bill Roushey

Fear

Last week, I sat with my loved one at a nursing home and listened to her express her fears. She feared being left alone most of all. It seemed all too easy for me to tell her not to worry and trust in God. Easy, because I wasn’t the one confined to a bed, whose future appeared uncertain, and who had to rely on others to attend to every need. When my visit concluded, I was the one able to leave and go home.

IMG_0620The following day, the word “fear” rose up from somewhere in my heart and planted itself in my mind like a roadblock. Thoughts of battling my own childhood demons surfaced. One clear memory involved watching my mother drive away, having dropped me off at summer camp I planned to attend. I begged her not to leave me and sobbed as I watched her go. Now, her and I were in a role reversal of sorts. I was the one driving away, leaving her at a nursing home, alone and afraid. I understood her pain because God willed me to endure similar pain decades earlier.

Before going further, I need to acknowledge that some fear can be a good thing. For example, I fear God, and revere Him above everything. I also fear, or respect, things like weapons, electricity, hazardous chemicals, lethal viruses, etc. Respecting them and following proper protocols keep people from harming themselves and others. For the purposes of this argument, I am addressing fear that is undesirable and destructive.

I’ve come to understand that no matter how hard I try to rid myself of it, fear will always accompany me as I walk through life. The struggle is to keep fear behind me. I have had moderate success over the years attempting to walk by faith and seeking to understand or learn more about the things I fear. However, each season of life I enter, as well as each time I have said, “yes,” to something God has asked me to do, a new set of unknowns lie in wait.

If unchecked, fear can grow like a weed, producing doubt and worry, which serve to choke out faith (see the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-11). Maybe that is why the words, “fear not,” appear so many times in the Bible.

When I looked up some references to “fear” in my Bible, I noticed the disciples of Jesus also struggled with fear. On one occasion, in the midst of a raging storm Jesus said to them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid” (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40). In another incident, Peter, wanting to imitate Jesus as he walked on the surface of angry waves, impulsively attempted to do so. He fell victim to fear and began to sink. After Jesus rescued Peter, he said to him, “You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

Jesus’ words remind us all of what can happen when shallow faith clashes with fear. If doubt could speak for itself, I believe it would say, “God does not really care about the concerns I face, and He really isn’t in control of the world he created either.” In the face of uncertainty, fear robs people of hope.

Conversely, holding on to faith cultivates hope. It embraces God and trusts him no matter what. It binds us to the belief that God indeed does care about every person’s concerns and is acutely aware of the trials they face.

Bill Gaultiere, on his website www.soulshepherding.org advises us to respond to fear the way that David, the psalmist did. David prayed and trusted in the Lord.

“When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

IMG_0627It’s always good advice to read your Bible. It’s the living Word of God. It will speak to your heart.  I offer this advice to myself (and to Mom): hold fast and stand on promises you find in the Bible. Pray that God will strengthen your faith. The God of the Bible is alive and at work in the world today. He can, and will, deliver you in times of trouble or give you the strength to endure.

A singular thought has emerged from my pondering. If I am striving to become a person of unwavering faith, I must choose faith over fear—everyday. So don’t abandon your faith when you need it most, embrace it and squeeze it tighter than you ever have before.