Part Two: Faith
(To read Part One, click here)
“Count it all joy when various trials fall upon you, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance; and perseverance, when it has completed its work, will make you whole and complete, lacking in nothing.” ~James 1:2-4
Untested faith is not faith. True faith is a muscle which, when properly strengthened, enables us to hold onto the one in whom we place our trust. That’s why James can say that trials are cause for joy. Not happiness, mind you; happiness is temporal (eating pizza and ice cream makes me happy; looking at the bathroom scale the next morning does not). But drawing nearer to God, no matter the test ahead—or rather because of it—brings me joy, which, unlike happiness, transcends the temporal state (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Are emotional results instantaneous? No. Muscles don’t grow bigger the second you start pumping iron. But there can be break-through moments: I wrestled for months with a huge amount of stress over one of the most important projects of my life, losing sleep, waking up early obsessing over everything that remained undone. I spoke these words aloud again and again: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And I earnestly believed them, having experienced the truth of them too many times to count. But my emotions hadn’t gotten the message yet.
Emotions tend to lag behind the convictions of heart and mind.
And then last week, eleven hours into a fifteen hour project day, I told my emotions, “Look, I’m gonna do this with or without you.” An hour later, a remarkable peace engulfed my body: my heart slowed down and my lungs expanded. I knew instantly that this was no mere tropical islet; I’d hit the mainland. And despite the ongoing challenges of the project, that peace has been with me ever since. And it will be…
Until the next big trial opportunity to grow in faith.
Some additional thoughts on faith:
“Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them.” ~Blaise Pascal
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
“Faith is not the intellectual acceptance of a body of doctrine; faith is faith in a person.” ~William Barclay
“It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
“Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we cannot see.” ~Hebrews 11:1
“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.” ~Madeleine L’Engle
“Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the window hope has opened.” ~Charles Spurgeon