It was one weighty situation after another, and I felt paralyzed by the need to think, feel, and decide wisely. Choices of when to speak and when to be quiet, how to wade unfamiliar relational waters, and how to listen to God were all on full blast. I was in knots for days, and it dawned on me, how does my faith help me here?
The Self-Reliant Fixer and the Trusting-Surrenderer in me were wrestling, and I was weary. Where was my faith? It was in my feelings and whether they could be trusted. It was in my ability to solve problems, to be a good advice-giver. It was in the pressure-inducing lie of ‘choose well or it’ll be your fault.’
I was at a crossroad: continue wrestling anxiously with myself or allow God’s truth to clear-cut a new path of being. By His grace, I confidently chose the latter, and living by faith became less of an abstract Biblical idea and more of a tangible framework for the storm hidden under the surface. I’m learning faith is surrendering my way to deepen my capacity to know and pursue God’s way.
Here are four questions that have helped energize my faith:
- Who is being exalted here?
Me? or God? Living by faith in God decreases pride and self-reliance… why? Because we can’t help but be humbled in light of our perfect Savior. Like Abraham, who “with respect to the promise of God, did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). My thoughts do more harm than good when not illuminated by faith, because faith glorifies God, not self, as sufficient. One of the most gracious things the Lord continually reminds me of is I am the creature and He is the Creator. We live by faith and not sight when we choose to find God in the midst of pain, uncertainty, or weakness, and exalt Him.
- What does the Bible say about this situation or my emotions?
Living by faith is a daily submission to the authority of Scripture and treasuring the truth of God. By applying His promises to our circumstances, we open ourselves up to flourish in both mundane and marvelous moments. Faith is allowing Scripture to inform our decisions and attitudes, conforming us to the image of Christ. We live by faith and not sight when we trust Scripture over what we see and feel.
- Is the gospel instructing my self-examination?
In #1, I am reminded to submit to God in low humility and exalt Him. But my faith also states my position in Christ before God. Excessive self-demotion is contrary to the gospel that invites me into life with God. Living by faith in God promotes confidence and acceptance even when we fail… why? Because your failure can’t disqualify Christ, and you are in Christ. Focusing on ourselves too much is like quicksand. Allow the truth of Scripture to not only pull you out, but also to be the light that helps you see more clearly. Maybe you’ve heard these words by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” We live by faith and not sight when we see ourselves accurately: near God, raised and seated with Christ, walking with His Spirit on earth to declare praises of Him. (For more on how God sees you, click here.)
Any practice that detracts from faith is an evil practice, but especially that kind of self-examination which would take us away from the cross-foot proceeds in a wrong direction. Charles Spurgeon
- What am I thinking about God in this moment?
Living by faith in God inevitably snuffs out doubt and fear and produces peace and strength… why? Because doubt and fear have no footing when it comes to the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God. Practice taking every thought captive and aligning it to Jesus. We live by faith and not sight when we refuse to believe any voice that contradicts what we know and believe about God.
Before we know what Jesus is doing, circumstances can look all wrong. And we are tempted to interpret God’s apparent inaction as unloving, when in fact God is loving us in the most profound way he possibly can. So in your anguish of soul, hear Jesus ask with strong affection, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26). Jon Bloom
Faith is not denying our circumstances, or escaping when life is confusing or difficult, but rather, “Faith is seeing all the problems before you with your earthly eyes, yet not using those eyes to see the solution” (K.P. Yohannan). If we find ourselves desperate for clarity or struggling to believe His promises, maybe it’s because we’re putting more faith in what we see, or in ourselves, instead of the faithful, unchanging God who is unseen.
A favorite [daily] prayer: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:11-12 NIV