In my blog “Developing Resilient Faith: Part 1”, I discussed the foundations of resilient faith and why it is crucial for us as Christians living in a broken world. Today, in part two, I want to suggest to you some steps you might take that can guide you through the wilderness season to the other side. But before I continue, know that these are not distinct, linear steps; rather they require a bit of back and forth and quite a bit of overlap.
Step 1: Get to Know God; Turn into the pain, not away.
One of my favourite characters in the Bible is the man who comes to Jesus and says, “I believe, help me with my unbelief”. How relatable is that!? I’ve always found Jesus’ response really comforting – he helped him! Casting out the demons terrorising the man’s son, he then extended a hand and raised him! He didn’t discount or turn from him in his doubts.
What if you let God use your pain to draw you into a deeper relationship with him? What if you asked him to help you with the barrier that stops you from experiencing complete freedom in Christ? There’s something about going through trials that strips away all pretence, dispensing with the small talk and the superficial sacrifices. If you let it, pain forces us to look God square in the eye and demand answers. “Help me with my unbelief” forces us to examine scripture more closely and be open with our hurts and disappointments, to Ask questions and wholeheartedly seek a response, chasing answers and never giving up. And in this we cannot help but grow in how we understand and experience God’s love. As we study scripture and converse with God, he will be revealed to us.
Lamentations 3:21-23, the book of lament says;
Yet this I call to mind and THEREFORE I HAVE HOPE: Because of the LORDS GREAT LOVE we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself “the LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Some people can be afraid of being angry with God, but do you know what I think? Ghosting God is worse! Pretending everything is okay while we die a little more inside each day is worse. Feeling betrayed (and let’s be clear here, God will NEVER betray us! Feelings aren’t always truth!), FEELING betrayed but refusing to talk to Him about it is worse. It will tear us up on the inside! I want to challenge you to feel the pain and to press in deeper; but don’t just sit and wallow in it, process through it, talk to God about how you really feel and get to know the sound of His voice and the sensation of His presence in the valley and you will know it on the mountaintops. In life you have a choice to really “Go after God” or to side with the enemy, there is no in-between. We can’t sit on the fence with Jesus.
We chose which side based on who we trust; we chose who we trust based on who we know. We get to know someone by spending time with them; consistently and regularly. Having deep conversations, studying their history, hearing first-hand testimonies from people we already trust.
Have you ever asked yourself why it is easier to forgive the actions of a close friend than an acquaintance? It’s because we know their heart! We can get an idea of their intentions and see their actions more clearly, because through relationship we know WHO they are.
Well, the same goes with God- when we know the heart of God, when we trust in his unfailing goodness, then we begin to see the world through different eyes. We can allow the Spirit to manifest hope in our lives, despite what we see in the natural. God is indeed good all the time and is not only worthy of our trust, but also is worthy of all honour and praise.
Step 2: Build your Trust
Jesus talks about having faith in Mark 11:22-24
“Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24For this reason I tell you: when you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”
Our human nature is to be in control. I don’t know about you, but my scientific brain likes to understand fully and sees uncertainty and ambiguity as something to be avoided at all costs. As a result, leaving things with God seems to be a lesson I must learn over and over and over again.
We all have a figurative mountain we need to move in our lives. Trusting God to move a mountain on our command may seem impossible, but we don’t have to start with the mountain. We can start much much smaller and allow our trust to snowball. Start to trust God with tiny acts of rebellion against your controlling nature. Surrender in other areas of your life that may be easier and less confronting. For example, tithing. Tithing is essentially trusting God with your finances, releasing control and acknowledging that God is your source; thus allowing God to provide all of your needs. As you tithe and see God provide, your trust will grow.
Another starting point may be choosing to stop when you’re feeling anxious, and praying a prayer of surrender instead of worry (or maybe as well as worrying if that’s where you can start). Prayer in the face of worry is active, it’s a move to say “I trust God”.
Or you could follow that still small voice of God when He tells you to send a message of encouragement to someone you wouldn’t normally text – this is you trusting God with your self-image. Not being afraid of what it might look, or sound like to the recipient.
Bringing all our needs to God’s attention in prayer. No matter how small we start, it begins to set a precedent for God as our provider. Over time, the faithfulness of God is revealed, His goodness is confirmed, and trust deepens as our faith grows. We don’t have to walk out of here and raise people from the dead tomorrow, we just start with where we’re at and do the next right thing; rebel against our need for understanding and certainty and put one foot in front of the other, allowing ourselves to dream again!
When we’re walking in intimacy with Jesus and trusting God as our provider, we can begin to receive the peace that comes with having God’s perspective. In exodus we read the account of the Israelites liberation from Egyptian slavery. Exodus 14 ends with the Israelites in awe of the power of God and great trust in his ability to save. Exodus 15 starts with a description of the song of praise they sang to the Lord. Yet, by the end of the chapter they are grumbling already, and this pattern continues over the rest of their journey. Ultimately their lack of trust results in them remaining in the wilderness an additional 40 years when they allow fear to over-ride faith.
We may ask ourselves, why did they so quickly forget the things the Lord had done for them? It’s easy to see their folly from the perspective we have now. But really, can’t we ask ourselves the same thing? How quickly we forget the times God has come through for us, we overlook the blessings we have received, the power we have witnessed and experienced? How quickly do we stop believing the promises of God, stop bringing our needs before God, stop dreaming?
Developing an attitude of gratitude and acquiring a kingdom perspective may be one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal to build resilient faith. Gratitude can help us to lift our eyes from our present circumstances to find a kingdom perspective. When we do this in conjunction with Step 1 “Getting to Know God’s character” and step 2, “Building our Trust”, then it is a simple next step to receive the peace that comes from having the perspective of knowing that the way God works is far above our earthly understanding.
Step 3: Receive the Gift of Perspective
As it says in Isaiah 55:9-10 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
We can’t always see Him working or understand how He is working, but we can still KNOW that He is. This is the peace Paul refers to in Philippians 4:6-7 when he says “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].”
Now to be clear, the last thing I am saying to you or want you to say to anyone else during pain and suffering is that you need to get some perspective. Remember this is a construction zone, we need to build our faith. So, if we’re not here yet, that’s ok. Go back to step one and just seek His face.
Proverbs 3:5-6 brings this all together; “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, (Remember trusting God is a heart issue not a head issue, your heart was designed to know and recognise Gods heart by relationship- REALLY knowing God on a deeply personal level) and lean not on your own understanding (build your trust that God’s ways are Good with tiny acts of rebellion!! Learn to lean on the promises, lean on your intimate knowledge of his goodness, despite your circumstances). In all your ways acknowledge him (get perspective of God working in your life! in your angry ways, in your sad ways in your happy ways, in your grief ways; every day, in every way, publicly and privately, discern his hand at work and give him the honour and the Glory knowing that ALL good things come from above and God is working all things for the Good of those who love him) and he will make your path straight (one step at a time, just doing the next right thing- with resilient Faith each step forward will be in the right direction towards wholeness, without drifting or detouring toward spiritual maturity and completeness).”
Now, I’d like to add one last crucial element to resilient faith;
Step 4: Do it together (Build Strong Relationships with Other Believers)
Obviously, relationship number 1 is with God, and we need to invest in strengthening this relationship first and foremost. But we also need to surround ourselves with other people, others who are concerned for our spiritual path. Those who can support and encourage us as well as guide and correct us when necessary. Get into a church that teaches directly from the Bible. Find a connect group that you can really do life with, with people who will notice if you start to drift and can pull you back in, who will cover you with prayer when you face trials and challenges, and who you can pray for and bear witness to the moves of God in their lives. Do not underestimate the power of testimony to build faith and Hope. I wonder how Moses would have done without Aaron and Hur during the battle against the Amalekites. As his arms grew tired and started to droop the Israelites would begin to be overcome by the stronger army, but when his friends saw he was exhausted they sat him down on a rock and they held his arms up for him. Allow others to partner with you in God’s victory.
One of the first things Jesus did when he began his years of ministry was to gather disciples. These became the men closest to Jesus’s heart and I’m often encouraged by the silly questions they asked him, because it makes me realise that its ok to come as we are to Jesus and ask him all the questions. But why did he gather disciples? For sure he was developing the future leaders of the church, mentoring them, guiding them in his ways and leading them to fresh understanding. But he was also modelling the importance of community.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Don’t walk this path alone, not only is it lonely enough in times of trials but we are at our weakest. Call on others to come alongside you and be a faith holder for you. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter Amelia, after stillbirth and miscarriage of my two precious babies in heaven Jonathan and Melinda, I had periods of absolute terror. I would call up my praying friends and say, “Can you hold faith for me? Hold hope for me?”, and they would hear me, and they didn’t try to tell me I was wrong for being afraid, they just believed in my place.
God wants us more than He wants anything that we may do or say for Him. He seeks after us so that we can be in relationship with Him and He will use anything and everything to achieve that. So even if we can’t yet consider it pure joy when we face trials – choose to use it to draw closer to the one who saves, heals, delivers and redeems and receive the peace and joy that comes with that relationship.
Dear friend, I pray these blogs have blessed your heart and your life. I pray that it helps set you free from anything that has been holding you back from a full and complete relationship with your loving Heavenly Father. I pray that you are encouraged to chase after God with all of your heart and soul and strength, knowing that he WILL be found by you. I Pray that you come to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are, seen, known, and loved.
Authored by Kath Currie. Kath is a mum to two beautiful daughters on earth and a son and daughter in heaven. She is married to Steve, a school teacher, and lives in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. In her free time Kath loves to paint in watercolour and conduct deep dives into scripture. She is a volunteer leader in her local church’s women’s ministry and loves to encourage women into intimacy with their creator.