Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments section under each entry.
For many years, I grieved over something beyond my control. I grieved over my daughter continually searching in the wrong places for truth and meaning, her refusing to stop grasping at false control, and her refusing to submit to God and believe that life and all the things we desire are as simple as a close relationship with Christ as our Savior and Lord over all our life.
I realized that all that she was going through—all the torture she put upon herself in the form of eating disorders, cutting, multiple addictions, complete distrust and manipulation of all people yet wanting desperately to feel loved, a failed suicide attempt, more suicide threats, refusal to cooperate in all therapies, refusal to go to rehab, and twice running away—was not what I should focus on.
From my position as a mother desperately wanting to stop her baby from harming and endangering herself, I could not see beyond the storm I was in. I kept trying to help my daughter change her perspective. Finally, seven years into the storm, I realized that I could not change her perspective, but I could change my own.
I had to choose faith over experiences and feelings. I had to focus on God’s truth instead of her numb, emotionless interactions, lethargic mornings, heavy perfume to cover up her sins, unexplained absences, physical trauma, and other apparent irrational thinking. I had to focus on what I could not see instead of what was before my eyes.
This choice became so clear the second time she ran away and had no contact with family for over two months. I couldn’t hold her in my arms. I couldn’t tell her the truth of God’s love. I didn’t even have confirmation of where she was or her health status. I wanted desperately to help her, to rescue her, but all I could do at that point was pray.
Praying meant that I had to turn it over to God, even though I thought I had already done that. Praying meant that I would fix my eyes and my heart on the God who made my daughter, who put us together, who knew every fear she faced, who knew every way she hurt herself and others.
Praying meant focusing on the God who can save her, who can hold her in His arms, who can calm all her fears, who can unmuddy the waters, who can straighten her crooked thoughts, who can help her trust and abide in Him. Praying meant acknowledging the needs while maintaining 100% focus on the God who is in control.
The noun faith is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “complete trust” and “confidence.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives several definitions including allegiance, loyalty, and fidelity. In the second entry for the noun faith, Merriam-Webster gives the following:
a(1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God
(2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b(1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof //clinging to the faith that her missing son would one day return
(2): complete trust
In the third entry for the noun faith, “complete trust” is included. Merriam-Webster defines the verb faith as “believe; trust.” Click here to see Merriam-Webster’s complete entry for “faith.”
For many well-known bible verses in the New Testament that discuss faith, the Greek word transliterated as pistis, or a form of that word (Strong’s Bible Concordance #4102) is used. The general definition of this Greek word is “faith, faithfulness” and is always used in the New Testament to describe faith as something received from God and never generated by a person. It is a persuasion given by God. The root of this Greek word is peitho (Strong’s Bible Concordance #3982) which means “to persuade, be persuaded.”
We must remember that faith is a gift from God, not something we can produce. In his letter to the Romans, Paul laid out how true Christians will live. In Romans 12:3, it is recorded, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Faith is clearly given by God, not something man can attain or produce on his own.
We are saved by grace through faith, not feelings. In his letter to the church at Ephasus, Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
If faith is something we can muster or produce, it makes salvation by our works, and this is not so. Romans 5:1,2 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (italics added). Notice that we are justified by faith; by faith we have access into grace. Faith is a gift to mankind through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Christ is the origin and object of our faith. I encourage you to read all of Romans 5. Here you can read it in the ESV. Or here you can read it in the KJV.
God-given faith is only valuable to have faith in the One who gave it. It is not valuable to have faith in our own plans and understanding or thinking things will work out because we bravely jump in or move forward without having a guaranteed outcome.
To know if we misunderstand faith, distinction must be made whether our focus is 100% on Christ or even 1% on what we want. We often say, “I am stepping out on faith” or “I am moving forward in faith” when what we really mean is that we hope things work out for our best. Naturally, we want our plans to succeed, and sometimes we think that by making this declaration we prove to God that we are being faithful and brave, and we hope He rewards us for that. This is a gross distortion of the truth that God gives us faith to focus on Him. The importance of focusing on Christ is so we see clearly and have wisdom for what we are to do and not to do.
God is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him, not all those who seek themselves or elsewhere for understanding. Hebrews 11, commonly known as the faith chapter, says in verse 6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
The action of faith is diligently seeking God, drawing near to God, focusing on God, and not taking our eyes off to see the storm around us. When we take our eyes off Jesus Christ, our vision is distorted, and our understanding is dulled.
When we keep our eyes and our heart fixed on Jesus Christ, we are productive for Him; we serve others in His love; we share His truth in love; we plant seeds of truth for others to grow in Christ. As fallible humans, it is easy to let our focus shift ever so slightly to the work we do for Christ or even to our own fleshly desires such as the modern understanding of and push for abundance and success. God doesn’t even define those words the same as we do today, so shifting our focus to them is simply wasting time we should be focusing on and seeking God.
It’s hard to trust and not waver when you look around at the storm. In fact, when Peter walked on water toward Jesus, it was when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked around him that he failed. He noticed the wind and then began to sink. Here you can read the full account.
When we are 100% focused on Christ as we should be, we will maneuver life successfully. We will only be blind to those things we shouldn’t focus on anyway. I fully believe that if we focus 100% on Christ, we will not be ignorant but will have wisdom for everything that we need to understand.
We are to live by faith, not feelings. In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, he said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Notice that we walk not sit, not stand, and certainly not lie down, but we walk by faith. We are to move forward in faith seeking God, not move forward in plans we imagine and think up.
Faith in Christ enables us to live faithfully, regardless of our current circumstances. Because of Jesus Christ and the faith He gives us, we can live without becoming weary and faint; in hope we are able to remain faithful. In Hebrews, we see that Jesus is the “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. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:2-4).
Faith, not feelings, gives victory. 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” The ESV translation says it this way— “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Faith is the victory. Faith is our victory to overcome the world. Faith is our victory over evil, sin, and even faithlessness. None of these have authority over us.
We have the choice to live in faith designed and given by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus rebuked Peter when he began to sink on the water within arm’s reach of Jesus. “When [Peter] saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:30,31). While he focused on Jesus and walked toward Jesus in faith, Peter was successful in walking on the water. It was when Peter took his focus off Jesus and noticed his circumstances that he switched to living in his feelings—fear. The immediate result of this transition from faith to feelings was failure.
We are to love by faith, not feelings. As hard as it was to put away my personal hurt that resulted from my daughter’s choices, I knew I had to do so to effectively point her to God’s redemptive love. She was a habitual liar and master manipulator who turned many close loved ones and several others in professional settings and casual circles against me.
These fiery darts were well-aimed because I had always held a very credible reputation for living a God-honoring, God-seeking life. Having folks turn against me, and all the gossip and hate that came with it, was very disheartening—just what satan wanted to use to distract me from praying for my daughter. He wanted to use this to sever my relationship with my daughter. Satan would have loved for me to focus more on my broken reputation than on praying for and leading my daughter in truth.
Love is not feelings. Love is a choice. Love as defined by the gospel is self-sacrifice. Actively loving someone who seems to hate and despise you is very challenging to say the least. I had to make a choice to love my daughter and not give satan a foothold in any of his attempts to disrupt my prayers for her. Think about the parable of the good Samaritan: did he help the man because he received any benefit from him? He helped knowing that he was likely hated by the man he helped; social lines were deeply divisive between Jews and Samaritans (half-Jews). Read the full parable here.
Faith produces faithfulness. As a result of focusing on and living through Christ, we will have certain qualities as outlined in Galatians 5:22,23—"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The Greek word used here for “faith” is transliterated the same as every other scripture mentioned in this article, pistis. This means that the faith given to us is how we live by faith and live faithfully to the truth, regardless of how opposite everything else appears.
Faith means pressing on because of your trust and understanding of the Author and Finisher of your faith. Many pray for years, even decades, for loved ones to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We don’t pray focused on what we see in our loved ones’ lives. Instead, we pray focused on the One we know can change it all. As we focus on God, He directs our words and actions to show His love for our loved ones. Let us pray to get our own selfish desires out of the way. Let us pray for God to bridle our tongue when we step aside. Let us pray for God to be glorified.
It is important for us to never stop praying for and showing God’s love to our lost family. Trust that the Author and Finisher of faith will cause His will to be done. I’ve witnessed too many miracles of salvation after decades of dedicated prayer to ever give up. From conception until now, I have loved my daughter with a heavenly perspective because I know that God has great things for her. Though she is still struggling to find her way, I continue to pray for this precious one and also her husband. They are precious in His sight, and He anticipates their seeking Him with their whole hearts even more than I can. He has a life of peace, joy, purpose, strength and wisdom for them and all who will turn to Him and seek Him in the faith that He gave them for that purpose.
God gave you faith to believe in Him, trust Him, and seek Him with your whole heart. By faith in Him we are more than conquerors.
Here’s a quick recap:
I'm tired of running from God and am trying to learn to run to Him instead.