Watching the ball drop in Times Square on the TV and entering a new year can be exciting and full of possibilities. There’s just something about fresh starts! On the flip side, have you ever gone through a season of difficulty where you end one year and look into the new year ahead, with a big question mark “Will God come through for me this year”? I have. I’ve been there. I’ve asked the questions. I’m here to tell you that I understand the doubt that can overshadow the hope that should come with a new beginning. That’s when finding faith steps in!
When my son was little, we used to love to go to the pool. Like most small children, he was initially very hesitant to just jump in the unknown waters in front of him. The fear of the “what ifs” would keep him from enjoying what I had brought him to the pool to do. Even with my gentle prodding, and sometimes firm demands, he would sometimes just stand on the side and watch the other children play where he wanted to be. All I wanted was for him to jump into my arms, let me hold him up, and help him navigate the cool waters that would give him some relief from the hot summer sun. I wonder. How many times does God feel the same way about us? How often does He gently prompt us to just trust Him so He can do what He does best…catch us when we need Him and place us safely where He wants us to be. But, how do you find faith when things seem hopeless?
Take Up the Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:16 specifically tells us to take up our shields of faith! Why a shield? I think it’s because when we have nothing else to hold on to, it’s the shield of faith that is our defense against the doubts and attacks Satan wants us to lean into and give way to. In fact, scripture describes these attacks as “fiery arrows.” Make no mistake…when you begin to doubt God’s goodness and His faithfulness, you are in a battle! That’s when you have to dig in and take up your faith that shields you from believing the lies Satan so wants you to buy hook, line, and sinker! What lies are you listening to, my friend? What thoughts does Satan seem to whisper in your ear that you are buying into? Those are the fiery arrows! When you know the arrows are coming, take up your shield of faith and fight back!
So, what is faith?
Google’s online dictionary defines faith as ” complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” If you haven’t read Priscilla Shirer’s book, The Armor of God, I highly recommend it!!! It’s one of my favorites! In her book, she points out that our faith has to have an object. And, our faith is directly tied to what we think about the object of that faith.
So, let me get down to the nitty gritty. What do you really believe about God? Stop to pause here and think through this question. What do you really believe about His ability to come through for you? What do you believe about His character and who He is? That belief will drive your faith in Him and what you believe He will do in your future. This is where you begin your journey in finding your faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The Living Bible translation says, ” It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.” Ok…so total transparency here. We all know that not everything always works out the way we hope. There’s a lot that goes into this verse that I think it’s ok to say that we just don’t understand it all.
What I do know is that God is in charge, and I won’t always understand the decisions and choices He makes. I often try to think of it in terms of a parent. Sometimes, I make decisions for my son that he doesn’t understand. As his mom, I can see a bigger picture that he can’t see. Sometimes, I tell him no (even though he begs me for something) because I know that telling him no will be much better than giving him the yes he so desperately wants, and I love him too much to give him what I know is not in his best interest. Faith is having confidence that as I trust God to act on my behalf, He works things out in my best interest. In the same way I want to pave the way for my own son, God wants to do the same for us, his children.
The faith of “the ancients.”
Why can faith sometimes be hard? Do you ever read through the Old Testament and wish God would just give you a cloud to guide you by day or a pillar of fire to guide you at night? Wouldn’t that just be so much easier? Sometimes we forget that the men and women of the Bible were real people. They had to walk by faith, too. We have the luxury of knowing how their stories ended. They didn’t know how things would turn out…just like we don’t know the ending of our stories. What we do know is that God rewards us for our faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the “Hall of Faith” and contains the list of Bible heroes who are commended for their faith. I can’t help but imagine that they had moments, too, when finding their faith was a challenge.
Think about it. Let’s put ourselves in Abraham’s shoes. Could we really, in faith, offer our child as a sacrifice expecting God to save him? Or Sarah…could we have the consistent faith to believe until old age that we would have a child because God had promised it to us? What about Rahab? She wasn’t even raised to believe in the living God, and she hid spies (even though she knew the severe consequences for it) because of what she had heard about the God of the Israelites. All of these men and women had to blindly walk in faith that God would come through. They didn’t have some crystal ball that showed them how things would turn out…and neither do we. What we do have is the promise of Hebrews 10:23: ” Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Let that be your New Year motto. God will be faithful! What God has promised he will fulfill. My job is to rest in His promises and trust in both his decisions and his provision.
How do I find my faith?
Come to terms with God’s right to make decisions regarding your life…regardless of what you think should happen or what you understand. I know…that’s REALLY hard! But, that’s where the peace is! Friends, I prayed diligently that God would save my marriage and reconcile my husband and me. The answer I got was a firm no. At the time, I could not understand why I would get a no when I knew God was pro-marriage. Two and a half years later, though, I have come to terms with the reason for the no, and I understand why He had to say no. I don’t write this to take away anything from the meaning my marriage or my husband had to me, the value of it that I still hold, or even the wish that the end result could have been different. But, I absolutely know that, because God knows and sees everything, He had to answer those prayers with a no. That was His blessing for me. Now, I have to walk in faith that if He said no, it’s because He has plans that are different than what I could see, and the future blessings in store will come as a direct result of me trusting Him. We are never going to always know the “why” to every question we ask God. That’s where we take the step of faith in knowing that God sees the big picture.
Take a look at His faithfulness. How has God been faithful to you in the past? What prayers has he answered that clearly paved the way for you, protected you, or provided for you? Where did He move people or situations on your behalf? What God has done in the past, He can do again! Even though God’s answer for restoring my marriage was a resounding no, I can clearly see his footprints in how He protected me during the divorce, and how He continues to provide for me as I build a new life. Hebrews 10:23 has become my verse as I go into this new year because I KNOW that He who promised is faithful!
Study the “ancients.” I know….I know. It’s not an exciting piece of advice. But, when we can look at the heroes of the Bible, put ourselves in their shoes, and see how they had to act on faith, it gives us the ability to find the faith we need to walk our own journey. These individuals didn’t possess any special character trait that enabled them to take the “leap of faith” any more than we do. What they all had was a heart to follow God and a confidence that He could be trusted. If God took care of them, He is more than capable of taking care of you, too!
Memorize scripture. I’ve only recently really begun to love memorizing scripture. I think it’s because it always felt like I was back in school any time I would start to memorize. Then, the summer after my divorce, I ran across a scripture memory challenge Beth Moore was doing on social media. In this challenge, each person selected a scripture to memorize every couple of weeks that they connected with. It wasn’t a canned Bible verse that everyone was given to do together…it was what I needed to hear at that very moment. What a difference that made! I wanted to memorize it. In fact, some weeks I needed to memorize it. Today, when I have a moment of doubt flash through my mind, I have a scripture that I can pull out to remind myself of who God is and what He has promised me through His word.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Finding Faith in the New Year
If you’re reading this and feeling like you don’t even have an ounce of the faith that you need to move forward in your journey, it’s okay. God doesn’t expect you to have hero faith right now. In Mark 9, the father of a possessed boy asked Jesus to help his son if he could. Jesus responded with “if I can?” The father then answered back that he believed, but he needed Jesus to help him with his unbelief. Jesus then healed the boy. My friend, God just wants you to take the first step. Sometimes that’s starting with just asking Him to help us with our unbelief.
May this new year bring you moments of stillness to be able to reflect on how God has moved in the past and how He is moving in your present. May it bring moments of activity where your only option is to completely depend on Him. And, may it bring moments of sheer excitement when you are able to just leap into the arms of your Father in heaven, fully knowing He is there to catch you and safely place you where He wants you to be!