“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV).
I have shared a lot about faith versus fear in the past eighteen months. Lately God has taken that learning I have achieved and turned it up a notch. It’s not so much about the fear anymore. I haven’t conquered that area, but I am seeing victory more often than feeling the effects of defeat. Now, God is challenging me in the area of growing my faith from a small mustard seed to something quite a bit larger. I’m realizing through my study that there are multiple layers of faith, or different steps, as though on a staircase. It’s not enough to just “speak it,” but in order to receive the blessings God has in store for my life, I need to live it, breath it, and let it soak all the way through me.
In order to explain what I mean, I’m going to use an example that deals with healing. This is a topic that touches many people’s lives. Either they themselves are dealing with debilitating (not always life threatening) and certainly life changing illness, or someone they love is and therefore they ache for complete healing for someone close to them. From reading God’s Word, I know God didn’t give the sickness since God doesn’t give people disease. Therefore, healing and health are the promises God gives but it’s our job to receive it. However, maybe like me, you aren’t sure you really know what that means or how to go about claiming something that’s the opposite of what you see and feel on a daily basis. Your mind tells you God has promised healing whereas your body shows symptoms of an illness that is physically present.
The first step on the staircase referenced above would be to study God’s Word on the topic. I had always heard this statement: If you want to become wealthy, study what God has to say about riches. If you want to be a good parent, go to the Bible and find out God’s view of how to raise your children. That’s great advice, but I wasn’t quite sure how to put it into practice. I didn’t have a study Bible and I didn’t know where to begin. However, I found when I want something badly enough, I’ll do the work necessary to get the answers I seek.
It’s much easier today than twenty years ago to search out Scriptures. I can Google “healing verses in the Bible” and get a huge list or go out and buy a study Bible that will show me where to begin reading. For this particular subject, I felt God leading me to start reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Those books of the New Testament talk about Jesus’ life here on Earth. It was during that time period He physically traveled around and healed people. Once I started reading the specifics of how He healed people, it was encouraging and filled me with hope. I think the main reason I felt that way was because of the knowledge God doesn’t play favorites. What He was willing to do for people when He roamed the Earth, He’s willing to do for people in 2013. And that’s exciting! What peace to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Once I began to read what God said about healing (and continued to study His lessons during my journey), the next step on my faith staircase dealt with my attitude. Once I truly believed God’s Word to be true, and that healing was mine as God’s child, my attitude played a huge part in whether or not I accepted healing would actually take place. I’m not saying don’t take medicine if needed or ignore doctors just because I have faith God is going to heal, but I am saying attitude about the condition/obstacle plays a huge part in the degree of success I will achieve. God can work through a variety of avenues (doctors, medicine, prayer, or an unexplained miracle) and it’s not up to me to decide for Him how He wants to perform any specific healing act. I’m saying I’ve learned God rewards not just obedience, but He rewards faith. God wants us to put action to our faith. We please Him when we come to Him in complete faith, trusting in the promises He has revealed to us through His Word.
For me, the next step on the staircase encompassed speaking in faith. Instead of giving in to all the internal doubts (I still feel lousy, I’ll have to take medicine for the rest of my life, there’s no hope for me), I needed to start speaking aloud what I wanted to see happen. Change, “I can’t” to “With God’s help, I will.” For me, it was very powerful to first say it aloud, and then to take it to the next level. Instead of dwelling on the negative things I saw, I started to envision and get excited about the reward that was to come. Extra energy from a body free of disease or trips our family could enjoy with time and money we were able to save. The best for me was to focus on one thing our family has always wanted to do and to start saving money ahead of time, believing in faith that God will grant that blessing with complete health. Taste it, see it, experience it so when discouragement comes (and it will because when God is growing your faith, Satan isn’t going to be happy) focusing on something positive instead of how you are currently feeling helps to shorten the negative feelings. God’s Word is truth. Feelings shift continuously. Feelings can’t be trusted; God’s promises can.
Please join me next time when I explain about the last two steps that were important during my journey toward stronger faith.
Have you experienced similar struggles, joys, or challenges during a period of time when your faith has been tested?
Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell