When our circumstances change, it tremendously impacts our confidence in God. It impacts our faith.
Have you ever been on a flight that hit awful turbulence? Overhead bags doing more than just shifting, drinks and food flying off the tray tables; everything is outside of your control at that point. Sometimes our lives feel like this. Sometimes our faith feels like this.
Our ability to be at peace and feel confident in handling life is tremendously impacted by how much we know about what’s coming at us and how well we think we can respond to it.
There are 4 different versions of what this looks like, and with each one, our confidence gets more shaken.
- When you know what’s going to happen, and you know you can handle it.
- When you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you’re still confident you can handle it.
- When you know what’s going to happen, but you’re unsure if you can handle it.
- When you don’t know what’s going to happen, and you don’t know how to handle it.
The closer we get to the bottom of this list, the more we struggle. It’s a struggle because our ability to know, understand, and handle it has a God-like power in our world, even as followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, it’s something we have to face and reckon with.
A lot of what we call faith is actually an icing of faith onto a thick foundation of control.
We can see how God is good when things are good. We can still see it when we can project through how God COULD be good or how good could come out. It’s one of the reasons we rationalize our way through tragic situations.
But what happens when we lose that foundation?
We end up in crisis.
We have these things that seem like crises of faith. But they’re actually crises of control, of confidence. We can’t predict the future. Some of us have felt condemned by others (or even by ourselves) because we’ve struggled in a moment like this. These moments invite us to come to the end of that control, but that’s the place where most of us stop. At that point, there are a few different outcomes that happen:
- We give up (cynicism – I don’t have to risk)
- We gaslight ourselves and double down
- We condemn ourselves (not enough faith / I did something wrong)
Maybe what you’re struggling through feels like a crisis of faith, but it’s actually something else. But what is faith, and how do we keep it?
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Faith is confidence in something. Most of us know that. But confidence in what? Our circumstances? Our understanding of them? No, something else. Hope. So, what is hope?
When you have hope, there’s part of the picture you see, but there’s the part you know you don’t see yet.
We see that here – an assurance about something we don’t see. It’s this idea that God is at work, even when we can’t see it yet. Even when we’re overwhelmed, out of control, or lack the answers.
7 Be faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and building is God.
11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was able to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the same on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
That seems depressing, right? So why even bother doing this?
Living in faith may not change our circumstances, but it changes how we see and live through them.
It keeps us connected to hope. It’s the belief that there’s part of the picture we haven’t seen yet, and God is still working.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Our story is part of something much bigger.
We have crises of faith because we center ourselves in whatever we’re experiencing. We put ourselves in the role of the main character. And that’s easy to do because we are the common denominator in everything we go through. But that’s because it’s the only perspective we have.
Giving yourself to a bigger story requires you to accept that you’re not the star of your own story. Instead, you’re a player in a much bigger cast. God is writing the story.
- It means what you’re experiencing isn’t an end. It’s bigger.
- It’s completely humbling, but it also means it doesn’t all depend on you.
- It will look different than what you want, can see, or even understand.
- It’s not emotionally satisfying for those who have experienced pain, loss, or difficulty. But it CAN bring some purpose to it. For that to happen doesn’t just take belief, it takes action – sometimes even when your whole being is kicking and screaming. That’s actually what hope is – not a feeling but a practice.
So, we manage our expectations with faith: some things we may never see, and others we will welcome from a distance.
This is a lifestyle. It’s a practice that may not change our circumstances but changes how we go through them. It reconnects us to what God is doing.
We take our ups, downs, fears, knowledge, and understanding and process them all through the lens of faith. We believe that God is who He says He is. He’s always at work, even if we don’t understand it.
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