The Nature of Faith

I’ve been thinking about faith recently. What it means to have it. What it “does.” What it is.

I started this year determined to have faith. Even when things looked impossible, I decided I would believe what God said and not what I could see. Much easier said than done. It’s only been one month and that resolve has been tested almost constantly. The things I’m particularly hoping for and praying about look even more impossible than they did before. And God keeps reminding me, Didn’t you say you wanted to believe in the things you couldn’t see? Well, here’s your opportunity.

I don’t know why I’m always so surprised when God takes the things I say seriously.

As I’ve wrestled with how to have faith that God can, wants to, and will answer specific requests I lift up, God has been reminding me of something He told me near the end of last year:

"The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth 
to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."
2 Chronicles 16:9

During a prayer meeting at which this verse was quoted, God said, You have caught my eye.

As usual, tears sprang to my eyes. God said, You have caught my eye with the time you’ve spent seeking my face. Since you were a little girl, you’ve done that. You don’t think I’ve seen? You don’t think that matters to me? I’ve heard every request you’ve made, I see every desire of your heart, now just watch me do everything––all those things you have whispered to me in the secret place. Watch Me do it.

So God has been reminding me: What did I say? You better believe? I’m counting on your faith?

No. God said to watch Him do it. He didn’t say a word about me doing anything. Oh.

I’m starting to understand that a big aspect of faith is simply resting. If God has said something will happen, it will. It’s not up to me.

At the same time, I do believe in contending for things in prayer. I believe praying into specific areas is important. But strangely, I feel like that intense kind of prayer goes hand in hand with resting. When I’m not worried, when I’m confident in God’s ability and willingness to accomplish the things on my heart, I can easily declare things in faith with fervor in the place of prayer. I can victoriously speak out that which is coming, passionately but from a place of peace, knowing that even if I heard wrong, God’s got it.

So what is faith?

Believing. Trusting. Resting. Obeying.

Faith can look different in different situations. Sometimes it means doing nothing. Other times it means taking action that could appear foolish. Sometimes it means loving sacrificially, in a way others don’t recognize. Often it means believing in who God is even more than what we think God wants to do. Living by faith can appear naive from the outside. But an ever-deepening faith is forged by the choices we make day by day to take seriously what God has said. And to wrestle with God with the results.

Faith is powerful. Faith participates in what God is doing. Jesus says over and over in the gospels, “Your faith has healed you.” However, when we experience setbacks and disappointments, our faith can waver. That is why the greatest news of all is that God’s faithfulness is stronger than our faith. God says that if we just believe, we can move mountains. But God also has grace for us when we fail: His eyes search throughout the earth for those whose faith is shaking to strengthen and hold them. And in that grace we can rest.

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Elizabeth walks by faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. Amidst her frequent bouts of laughter, tears, and adventures in nature, she is constantly learning, growing, pondering, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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