A perfect example of faith in the Bible is the story of Abraham and Isaac. This story can be found in Genesis 22. Abraham and Sarah had prayed for this child. Sarah had a baby much later in life, when it wasn’t even physically possible for her to do so. Their prayers had finally been answered. Then, God tested Abraham’s faith. He told Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Abraham, showing great faith in God, led his son up the mountain and prepared an altar. When Isaac asked his father where their sacrifice was, Abraham told him that God would provide. Abraham tied his own son up and put him on the altar. It was not until Abraham’s blade was over the boy that God told him to stop. Abraham was willing to go through with it, if that was God ordered him to do, but I’m sure he was relieved to see a ram in the bushes that could serve as a sacrifice. Abraham showed ultimate faith. He was willing to give it all for God.
This story is an example of big faith! Most of us will never be able to show our faith in such a big way, and not everyone would even react in the same way. Many of us would run in the other direction if God told us to make such a sacrifice. Faith is hard! Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” It’s the whole “believing in something you can’t see” thing that is difficult!
Have you ever taken the Lipton plunge? There used to be a commercial (back in the dinosaur ages, according to my kids) where people would drink Lipton tea and then they would free fall backwards into a pool of refreshment. When I was little, I used to do the Lipton plunge into our swimming pool. Each spring when the pool was opened, the first time I took the plunge, it was really difficult. I had to close my eyes, work up my nerve and just fall. Once I had plunged and realized I wasn’t going to die, it got easier and easier to do it.
The same can be said of faith in God. The first time you just let go and trust God, it is so hard. Your mind is full of “what if’s.” “What if He forgets me?” “What if He doesn’t come through?” “What if He doesn’t catch me?” You have to pray and make your brain hush. Then, you hold your breath and trust. God comes through, and He does catch you and He does not forget you. Then, the next time you have to trust in God and your mind starts asking questions, you can remember that God didn’t let you fail the first time. This gets easier and easier and easier as God proves Himself to you.
For whatever reason, God has really worked on me to give me faith. I may not have many other fruits, but I’ve got faith. Oh, sure. I used to have plenty of doubts. I did not grow up believing in God. Once I thought I had “found” God, I still had years of doubts. I had my “atheist” period in my teen years. Then, I was gung-ho for Jesus (sounds like a T-shirt, doesn’t it?). Then, I went through the “He might exist” stage. I have bounced back and forth and up and down. I have purposely done things against God just because I was mad at Him. I have judged other people because I was so righteous and they were not. I have been every color of the rainbow when it comes to Christianity. Finally, through years of struggles, I can firmly quote and believe 2 Timothy 1:12, “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”
I have seen Him. I have known Him. I have been saved by Him. I have been carried by Him. I know He will protect me, yet I doubt it. I am a contradiction in myself. Mark 9:24 says, “The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!’” That pretty much sums up how I feel, and it is how all Christians feel (if they are honest about it). We believe, yet we don’t. We have faith, yet we doubt. We pray to God that we trust Him, and then we worry. Faith takes practice, and it is never perfected.
Many times, if we lack faith, we beat ourselves up. We think we aren’t good enough Christians. We think everyone around is so faithful, but we are so weak. The truth is, we are all weak, and we are all full of doubts. Even Abraham was weak, and he had doubts! He was a man of great faith. He was willing to kill his only son, if that was God wanted him to do. He was listed in Hebrews 11 in the “Hall of Faith.” Abraham was one of the tops in faith, as far as I’m concerned. However, Genesis 15 tells us of a conversation between Abraham and God. It tells us about Abraham’s “what if’s.” He had them too! When God said he would make a nation out of Abraham, Abraham started questioning. He had fear and doubt. So, if Abraham, the father of all nations, had doubts, how can we not? Our doubts don’t make us bad. They make us human.
So, face today with as much faith as you can muster. God doesn’t expect 100% faith all the time. He says if you have faith that is the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. I’m pretty sure we can manage a speck of faith, and when we find ourselves doubting, we can pray, “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.” -Al