Friday, April 21, 2017

Lonely and Depressed: Don’t Let Your Faith Dwindle!

The Bible tells us: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1) What do we hope for? We hope for God’s promises to become a reality in our lives. Faith believes these promises will be fulfilled. Faith is experiencing God’s love, even though we might not see Him with our eyes. Faith is the glasses, placed on the eyes of our heart, through which we see God. Faith is a gift.

In the Bible, God also tells us: “The victory that conquers the world is our faith.” (1 John 5:4) This is a huge statement to meditate on, because faith is something we should never take for granted.

Is our faith real, or is it a counterfeit? Does it arise out of the passing emotion of the moment, or is it everlasting? Is it there to stay, or will it be stolen by the enemy when trials, persecution or temptations come? In my opinion, a great benefit comes from second-guessing ourselves and not being too proud about the greatness of our faith. Why? We can become too excited and too overconfident, and then we will be in danger because this is when the enemy will attack us. Scripture says “Be sober and vigilant.  Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him steadfast in faith…”(1 Peter 5:8-9) Faith is a shield, and so we must always have our shield up and ready but if we are overconfident, we might not realize our shield is not as strong as it needs to be! We do not want to get too comfortable and let down our guard. Hence we must give our hearts and elevate our minds to God each morning, surrendering our will and placing our trust in Him, humbly asking Him to strengthen our faith.

How can we believe in someone we do not see? God is so good and loving to His children that He has revealed Himself to us. All we need to do is to want to get to know Him. It is difficult to believe in Someone we do not personally know, to believe in that Person’s goodness, love, mercy and power. If we say we have faith in God, but we have not taken the time to get to know Him, this could mislead us we might end up thinking it is enough to just say we have faith.

            Saying we have faith is not enough. It does not necessarily mean we have faith in our hearts. We might want to have faith, might even try to have faith, but without getting to know God, our efforts are in vain. Knowing requires learning. I know math only after I learn math. Likewise, I know my classmates only after I take time to learn about who they are and what is going on in their lives.

            In the same way, learning about God can lead us to knowing God. And knowing God will lead us to loving God, and loving God will lead us to having great faith and trust in Him. Why? Because, as we fall in love with Him, we will naturally desire to do His will. As we start to do His will, our life will be turned around, and His graces will fully flow into our heart. Faith, God’s greatest gift to us, will then become firmly established in us, and we will be able to see the difference that it makes to live our lives in the presence of God.

            As we get to know God, a great desire to love Him will be unleashed. As we come to understand the greatness of His love for us and see how He loved us first, we will desperately try to love Him back, and then we will quickly come to the realization that to love Him we need to align ourselves with His will. This takes work. We cannot just lean back and say, “I believe in God, and this is enough for me.” No way! We need to put time into our relationship with Him. Only then will we come to experience the fullness of His promises. Only then will we come to enjoy the fruits of His Spirit living in us. Only then will we come to live under the shadow of His wings.

            When we get to know God, we learn that we need to follow His ways in order to be fulfilled in this world and completely happy in the next. We cannot just try to do it our way! He is all knowing, and we are not, so we need to listen to Him and do what He tells us! Through prayer, meditation and Bible reading, we come to understand what He wants from us. If we are humble and we recognize that there is much for us to learn and much for us to change, we will allow His loving hands to mold us and make us brand new. Then we will start experiencing a brand new life.

            We must make a commitment to learn His ways, doing what He tells us, obeying His loving words of advice for us. Like the psalmist, we need to pray: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path. I make a solemn vow to keep your just edicts…Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on fulfilling your laws; they are my reward forever.” (Psalm 119:105-106,111-112) This psalm reflects a true understanding of the fact that God loves us with an everlasting perfect love. All He wants is for us is to be safe under the shadow of His protection. His desire for us is for us to experience the joy that it is to have His love living inside our hearts. His desire for us is for us to come to everlasting life.

            We must take to heart words of advice that have been said by Christians before us. Great saints give great advice. I once read that “In the deepest solitude, God speaks to our hearts.” Maybe that is why sometimes He allows us to become a bit lonely, so that we can let go of all that is preventing us from listening to Him. Only then, when we are ready to listen, can He lovingly speak to our hearts and show us the way to be followed.

Faith makes us act. If faith does not make us act, then we have fooled ourselves, and perhaps we have no faith at all. As it says in the book of James, faith without actions is dead. (James 2:17) And faith that is dead is no faith at all. True faith saves us because it leads us to go to Him and to follow Him with our hearts and with our actions. Have we come to know God yet? What are we waiting for?!

Wisdom to contemplate:

“But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“Jesus said to him, ‘“If you can!” Everything is possible to one who has faith.’ Then the boy’s father cried out, ‘I do believe, help my unbelief!’”
 (Mark 9:23-24 )

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” (John 14:1)