I'm thinking about faith this morning. Hebrews 11:1 tell us "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (ESV)
I have a friend who has been under an unusual amount of trial and tribulation mostly pertaining to money and her child but also a few other things that challenge her on a daily basis as well....things like organization or lack thereof and fear. She sent me an email yesterday morning outlining the things that had particularly been causing her a great deal of stress and hurt, and I offered to assist her in a couple of things. We talked on the phone a few minutes yesterday, but for some reason we got cut off. I had settled it in my mind and heart (with God's prompting) how I was going to help her, so I went on about my day. I got another email from her this morning talking about "childlike faith". Which is how I started thinking about faith.
Everyday we get up taking for granted that the sun will rise and set, the earth will revolve around the sun for another complete day, the birds will chirp or sing, the fish will swim, the rains will fall when we need them. We learn that from birth, from everyday seeing that God has made the world in a way that repeats itself daily and so we can have assurance that it will keep on doing it just that way. To me, it is evidence that we have the Great Creator watching over all that He made. He is keeping it in line with His plans for the day. Child-like faith.
Childlike..assurance of things hoped for.....conviction of things not seen (the KJV uses the word "evidence" of things not seen). And so, with all the things that are not going in a manner that has always heretofore been known, how can my friend to keep the faith, the assurance that God is for her and not against her? What might be evidence to her of the fact that God is watching over her and therefore convict her of His presence in her life? Me, doing His Will. If I listen to His voice and hear what He has to say to me about what I am supposed to be doing to help her. I can help her keep the faith.
Okay, so that's childlike faith. How does one increase their faith to, say, the level of faith of the martyrs? I received a Voice of the Martyrs newsletter just before Christmas, and I found myself crying, sobbing actually, as I read about a group of Christ following mothers who had been captured by the North Koreans. They were given a chance to renounce their faith in Christ, but would not do it. They were given another chance to renounce their faith or their children would be hanged. The newsletter tells of how one mother reached down to her "small" child and told her that today she would see her in Heaven. The children were all hanged. The mothers were given one last chance to renounce their faith, and they were then all run over by a steam roller! Can you imagine it? I can't. I'm asking, Oh, Lord, how do I build my faith to the point that I can trust you and love you so much that I put my child's and my life in your hands so completely -- even to the point of death -- that I can stand against anything knowing that you are there with me?
James 1:3 says that the "testing of your faith produces steadfastness". Has your faith ever been tested? I don't really think mine has, but I think it's coming, and all I can do is trust God's Word which tells me that he will give me strength when I am weak and give me power when I am powerless. (Again, ...faith!)
Romans 5:3 tells us that "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen).
And finally, in the book of James we are told:
Jam 1:2 KJV - "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"
Jam 1:3 KJV - "Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
Jam 1:4 KJV - "But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Jam 1:5 KJV - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Jam 1:6 KJV - "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."
Faith that Jesus is/was who He said He is/was is the foundation of our walk with Him. We know that faith in Jesus brings on worldly trials and tribulations which makes us choose to endure for the sake of our faith, and that endurance of trials and tribulations causes us to be patient and be steadfast in our faith which produces more faith, and on and on and on....
James says it exactly as it should be said, "Count it ALL joy," when you are tempted and tried.....
So let's put these two things together. We need to help each other build our child like faith by being there for each other and doing what we can to be the hands and feet of Jesus for our brothers and sisters. This builds their faith (and ours). If we are all true to the calling of God, it's a continuous circle and we are all touched by it. When we have the company of our like minded brothers and sisters to help us through the rough patches, our faith is strengthened. So when trials are coming at your constantly; first, rejoice in the Lord; then ask Him to help you: endure, be patient, and for an outpouring of His wisdom.
2Tim 1:12 ...nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
If we truly know him that we have believed on, then there is no way that we can't also know that He is faithful and true to keep our lives that we have committed to him against that day when we see Him face to face.