I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief! - Mark 9:24
Have you ever had a crisis of faith?
For most of my life, faith has come pretty easy for me...until suddenly it didn’t.
Years ago, my world was rocked by a rapid fire series of devastating losses including those deeply personal, professional, and ministry related. Believing God became a moment by moment battle of epic proportions. Along with constantly begging God for more faith than I had, there were two things that most helped me trust God.
Changing the Lens
During my struggle, God continued to bring to my mind a verse I’d memorized long before and had quoted multiple times to encourage other people in the midst of their own pain - “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
The honest truth of the matter is that in the midst of my own messy circumstances I did not feel God near and my spirit seemed crushed into powder size pieces that could never be put together again. When I viewed this verse and others through my experiences, the words fell flat because I couldn’t see or feel the truth of them. They sounded like an empty greeting card sentiment, written by a sappy someone who had no idea of what it felt like to have their world turned upside down over and over and over again. And therein was the root of my flaky faith:
I was only viewing the trustworthiness of God and of His Word through the lens of my circumstances, when I should have been viewing my circumstances through the lens of God’s unchanging Word.
The problem with only viewing God’s trustworthiness through the lens of our circumstances is that our circumstances change. This fickle filter sets us up for a very distorted and topsy turvy view of God. It also rests the weight of our faith on something incredibly unstable--our feelings. If how we feel about our circumstances determines how we think, feel about, and trust God, not only are we in for a rocky ride of faith, but we are actually saying that what we feel is more important that what God says. (Why He doesn’t just strike us all with lightning is beyond me!)
The bottom line on whether we will trust God comes down to how we answer a very important question: Will we believe what God says, regardless of how we feel?
For my faith to prevail over my feelings, I had to choose to believe that God was near because His Word said He was. I had to choose to believe that He could and would save my crushed spirit because He said He would. I’m not saying that choosing to believe was (or is) easy, or that it was a one and done choice. It was something of a daily wrestling match actually, but one I fought through with a whole lot of prayer and tears, seeking prayer cover from trusted prayer warriors, and by reminding myself of what was true through spending a lot of time reading, rewriting, and repeating God’s Word to myself out loud. What I can say is that the peace this eventually brought me was worth the fight to find it.
The Truth of God’s Word is to be the lens from which we view life with all it’s personally glorious, soul crushing, and marvelously mundane moments. And while viewing life from the lens of God’s Word doesn’t miraculously change our difficult circumstances, it does change how we view them and gives us a steady assurance that is critical to our spiritual health and sense of joy.
Praying with Thanksgiving
I am not usually a worrier, but I was uncharacteristically overcome by anxiety and fear during this dark season. It was while looking at another very familiar Bible verse that I noticed a phrase that took on new meaning,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7 (emphasis mine)
It was the phrase “with thanksgiving” that captured me and wouldn’t let go. Everytime my mind started to do what my friend and pastor Rick Thompson refers to as “rehearsing our worries”, I started combatting it by thanking God for everything I could think of worthy of thanksgiving.
Even though I was beyond heartbroken over family deaths and other very real losses in my life, the discipline of giving thanks reminded me of the goodness of God in the land of the living, became a lamp shining in a dark place, and watered my floundering faith by reminding me that there is always something to thank God for. Constantly praying with thanksgiving really did give me a peace that transcends understanding.
Believing God is hard when we view Him and the trustworthiness of His Word only through the lens of our circumstances, rather than viewing our circumstances through the lens of His Word. Believing God is hard when we let our thoughts and fears run rampid on an incessant loop inside our heads, instead of bringing them alongside the light of who He says He is, what He says He will do, and how He cares for us.
But regardless of what our circumstances cause us to question, regardless of what we think or feel, here is the bottom line truth:
God’s unchanging Word is THE final Word on who God is, what He can do, who we are, what we can do, and on the Hope that is always ours to have if we have placed our hope in Him.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” - Isaiah 40:8
If God said it, it is true and it always will be true. That leaves us with a life-altering choice we must make over and over again:
Will we believe what He said?
Questions to Consider: Do you view life and its circumstances through the lens of God’s Word or do you view God’s Word through the lens of life?
What difference would it make in your life if you viewed your circumstances through the lens of His Word?
Meet the Author!
Bible teacher, author, inspirational speaker and disciple-maker, Vickey Banks is passionate about helping women connect the dots between God’s Word and their everyday lives. She loves serving as Women’s Ministry Director at Council Road, celebrating her people, playing with her puppy and getting lost in a good story.