When Your Back is to the Wall
Simple Encouragements for Faith
No matter how proficient we may get at hearing from God, we never reach an end of the testing of our faith in this life. Faith continues through cycles of pruning where at times all may appear “lost” before the Lord shows up in a new way to save us over some serious life-impacting issue. Passing through one such issue recently, the Lord crystallized four simple points to hang my faith on. These points are good for anyone at any level of faith and maturity in the Lord. I pass them on for anyone dealing with a serious faith-testing situation right now.
1. Commit to Trust in the Lord
This first point may seem obvious, but often is hidden in plain sight because of the magnitude of what we may be facing. We must know and remember that the “issue” over which our faith is being tried is never the ultimate issue. The ultimate issue is the Lord Himself and our relationship to Him. Our faith is ultimately not “for something” but “in Him.” “Faith” over an issue must begin with “Trust” in a Person.
Serious issues of faith come with powerful natural fears and hopes attached. We must not allow our awareness of the “issue” with its hopes and fears to interpose between us and our awareness of “Him,” no matter how big the “something” may be over which we are approaching the Lord. Faith over an issue can only stand when built from a platform of explicit Trust. Therefore preserving Trust in the Lord is the foundational battle that must be won at all costs before faith can succeed regarding an issue. The Lord wants to know that we are more committed to Him than we are to our issue. Faith not built on trust yields an exercise in idolatry and even witchcraft.
2. Cultivate Thanksgiving Amid Testing
This too is a familiar theme. The problem though is we don’t really understand why we should do this. We are always told to “give thanks” in tough times, but without any other reason than that “we should” or “it’s the right thing to do.” That’s not good enough. My purpose here is to briefly explain the purpose and power of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving acts as a seal on the heart to enforce trust (above) and to mitigate the power of the awareness of the faith issue at hand. When faith is tested over an issue, the attached fears and hopes can magnify themselves out of all proportion to reality and destroy our basic platform of Trust on which our faith must stand. Thanksgiving is a psychological protector of Trust and an armament against fear and misplaced human hope. It is a powerful weapon in the battle to preserve Trust.
Not only this, but thanksgiving generates the spiritual objectivity that establishes peace in our souls and creates the “internal climate” necessary for real faith to flourish. Faith must get past fear before it can become fruitful. Thanksgiving helps make this possible. It is not just a dutiful exercise to “anesthetize” us to the difficulty of the issue at hand.
(These points are wonderfully summed in Philippians 4:6-7. The exhortation to pray “with thanksgiving” in verse 6 is what produces “the peace that guards our hearts and minds” in verse 7.)
3. Commit to LISTENING before ACTING
The natural fear attached to serious faith issues impels us to take actions in reaction to the fear itself, before we have actually proven our peace in God and ascertained His mind in a matter. When serious matters arise, fear always forces an urgency on us designed to provoke us to premature actions. The problem here is that faith only “comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” We cannot act in Faith over an issue if there is no word from God to hear, believe and respond to. This means we must reject the urgent impulse to act in the face of an issue, committing rather to WAIT until we’ve heard something from God in the stillness of the Spirit that gives clear-minded direction for action, if any.
Fear is very demanding, barking threat-laced commands at us: “You MUST see a doctor, NOW, or she’ll die….You MUST apply for that government benefit, NOW, or you’ll be on the street tomorrow… You MUST go do so-and-so, NOW, or the authorities will come...!” To make it worse, these commands often come through the voices of well-meaning relatives and even church people who do not really understand faith. Nevertheless, such voices must be resisted (as courteously as possible). We must “tune out” internal and external reasoned demands, gaining precious time to hear from God before we commit to any action. Again, without hearing a word from the Spirit, we have no basis to act in faith.
None of this is to legislate what the Spirit can and can’t say. Some faith “cults” try to mandate certain courses of action as always being “of faith” or “of unbelief” (Ex: “If you have true faith you will never go to a doctor.”) Nonsense. Once all is quiet, the Spirit may indeed give a word that actually aligns with what at first may come as unbelieving counsel. Don’t get fooled by this. The issue is not “What is a ‘faith course’ of action here?” but “Have you heard from the Lord in quietness? What does HE say to do, or not do?” Whatever we hear, that’s what we must do. That is what is of faith. Anything else is unbelief (even if it has the appearance of “faith.”)
“But what if no word comes before an action must be taken?” Sometimes, intense circumstances devolve on us forcing us into involuntarily points of decision and action before we have gained adequate space to hear from the Lord about an issue. If this happens, it is because the Lord believes we already have the capacity of faith necessary (i.e., His Word is already sufficiently in us) to exercise decisions on His behalf in a matter. It means He trusts us, and His purpose for the forced circumstance is to prove His trust in us, not our trust in Him. This means, once decisions or actions under forced duress are taken like this, they are accounted to us as faith and there is to be NO regret for them.
4. Commit to “Live Free of Die”
This phrase borrowed from the state motto of New Hampshire yields an important point of faith. Faith is about freedom; fear is about slavery. In the end, it is better to die if necessary for the cause of true freedom through faith in Christ than to succumb to the security-slavery of human systems and ways in order to save our own skin in this world. You must be persuaded of this. This means, if the faith word from the Lord ultimately convicts you to go contrary to what is humanly self-protective (“Do not see a doctor. I am Your Physician” … “Do not go to the bank. I am Your Provider”) you must be prepared to “die” for your faith, no matter what manifests or doesn’t manifest in response to your faith.
In the end of every faith encounter, you must be prepared for the Lord to come through or not come through for you as He sees fit to meet you, regardless of the Word He gave you to believe on, how you understand it and what you are expecting from it. Why? Because in faith, the bottom line is not the expected result from the “word of faith,” but trust in Him. Trust is not only where faith starts, but also where it ends.
When living by faith, we must always have a bottom line of trust beyond our own expectations. That line is found in the words of Esther, “And if I perish, I perish.” It is found in the words of Daniel’s friends, “Our God is able to deliver us, O king; but if not, we will not serve your gods.”
In the course of perfecting sonship in the image of Christ, the testing of our faith is designed to advance our freedom in Christ outside the systems of this world in preparation for rulership with Him in His kingdom. We must so desire and cherish this freedom that we are willing to die for it should God “fail” us than to give in any more to the ways of this world with its promises of healing, provision, security and deliverance.
Be persuaded then of the ultimate prize before us in the exercise of our faith over life-impacting issues. Realize that the serious testing of faith is about more than immediate issue. It’s about your kingdom destiny to come.
In that light, let these pointers help anchor you no matter what you may be facing today. Don’t give up. Don’t let go—of Him. And you will make it.
New Meadow Neck, RI
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created April 11, 2008