Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
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The Focus of Faith
Over the years, I have gone deep down trails I never wanted to travel; however, I know that my suffering will not end in tragedy or despair. Yesterday, I identified and thanked God for five specific beautiful blessings that have grown out of a deeply painful trial. Then I received more bad news pertaining to that trial. Despite the latest bad news, I am compelled to rejoice because God is still in control; He is still all-powerful, unchanging, loving, and compassionate, causing everything to work for my good because I love Him, live to honor and obey Him, and am called according to His purpose.
Faith is the cement in our spiritual foundation. Faith enables us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to the will of Christ Jesus who died for our sins and gives us hope. Faith enables us to not fret over bad news. It is faith that stirs our souls to wait for the good news, knowing that we already have the victory in Christ. It is faith that keeps us from despair. It is by faith that we have access to God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Faith is powerful, and it is important to understand the power behind faith. Faith isn’t a distinctly separate force with power in and of itself. God is the origin, cause, anchor, and end of our faith.
Sometimes we want so badly to understand why something is happening to us—Did we do something wrong for which God is punishing us? Are we suffering unfairly? Self-reflection doesn’t typically give us a clear answer because we know that God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11-16), and it rains on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45).
And sometimes wondering can drive us berserk. It’s not meant to be our focus. Focusing on anything other than God allows fear to take root. Fear is the opposite of faith; they cannot coexist. They push apart like oil and water. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminded him, “according to the promise of life which is in Jesus Christ,” that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:1,7).
For more evidence that we are to focus on Jesus, we see immediately following the famous “Faith Chapter,” Hebrews 11, that Paul exhorts the Hebrew believers who are suffering persecution for their beliefs to focus on Christ. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” *Emphasis added.
Faith is important. Often people say, “Just have faith.” But what does that mean? Faith is important, and it’s important to understand why it’s important.
A couple of months ago, I heard a popular preacher telling people, “have faith in your faith.” He explained how important it is to have confidence in your own faith. Sadly, since becoming aware of this misconception, I have seen that it is widespread in cultural Christianity.
The problem with having faith in your faith, or confidence in your faith, is that there must be an object of faith—a person or something trusted and believed. In other words, having faith in your faith is as unfruitful as having faith in nothing at all. It’s equivalent to telling someone to trust their trust. And that makes no sense. We don’t trust our trust. We trust in someone or something, or we trust that something is or will be.
As Christians, we are to have faith in God alone. He is the author and finisher of our faith; He is to be the sole object of our faith. We cannot have faith in faith; that is empty faith. Having faith in anyone other than God is misplaced faith.
Sometimes we misplace our faith and depend on someone to not disappoint us, mess up, or sin. It’s important to love people but trust only God. All people are susceptible to human error and sin. We are imperfect creatures with limited knowledge and understanding, and we all have desires of the flesh. We aren’t the perfect anchor that God is. He is to be the only object of our faith. Faith in anyone or anything besides God is wishful thinking at best. When a person puts full trust, or faith, in another person, holding them to perfection, it ultimately leads to a crumbled relationship and broken lives.
God gives us peace when we truly trust Him. Parenting through the continual crisis that was my daughter’s teenage years, I could have had faith that everything would settle down, I could have had faith that my parenting and our family support would bring her back around, I could have had faith in her character that I hoped to influence as her mother, or I could have had faith in her simply as my daughter. I had faith that whatever happened, God was still in control and loved us immensely. I had faith that everything would work out. Not knowing the definite outcome, I still had peace.
Nothing holds the same anchoring power as having faith in God alone. During my parenting crisis, faith in God alone meant acknowledging that my daughter’s choices were uncertain and unpredictable. Faith in God alone meant trusting His character over my own or my daughter’s. Faith in God alone meant knowing His love is perfect and effectual.
For all of us, faith in God alone means seeking His wisdom for all aspects of life, especially relationships, including marriage and parenting. Faith in God alone means that we acknowledge our complete helplessness and the insufficiency of our own wisdom and skills. Faith in God alone means not predetermining the outcome as a basis for our faith. Faith in God alone means acknowledging His constant, unchanging goodness despite our uncertainties and circumstances.
We recognize that people can fail, but God can never fail. We have confidence in people every day, and while that’s a necessary part of life with others, having faith in God is different because He is the infallible, all-knowing, ever-present Creator of the universe.
As we navigate life—relationships, hardships, victories, and even the mundane, it takes conscious effort to live our lives focused on Christ. We must remind ourselves of truths such as that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, good, and just. When we take our eyes off what we can see and deliberately focus on Christ whom we cannot see, we have a peace that passes all understanding and wisdom that carries us into the right decisions. Even when things seem upside down, we can trust that God sees, cares, and is working all things for our good.
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I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.
LIFE (Live in Full Effect) Blog by Jeanie Malone is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0