“Take your stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes.” 1 Samuel 12:16, NASB
“You just need to have faith.”
“You just have to trust God.”
“Just let go and let God.”
I’m sure you have heard these well-intended statements before, and like me, you’ve probably thought “What does that even mean?” True, we know that when we are in the midst of a storm, dealing with struggles or grief or uncertainty, faith is vital to our survival. But what does “faith” really look like? How do you really trust God?
I believe it is something the contemporary church has forgotten how to do, particularly in countries with “religious freedom,” though that freedom is being eroded. From the days of Adam and Eve, faith has been refined and strengthened through struggles. Job was put through severe trials and he declared, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Abraham’s faith was tested, and he “was called God’s friend” (James 2:23). Moses’ faith was stretched by two million plus whiney Israelites, but God said he “would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). In studying recently the history of the church, it was the persecuted, the martyrs, and those who were forced to flee for their lives whose faith was the strongest. It is true today, as Christians around the world are being killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.
What does persecution have to do with faith? Everything, because when you lose everything else and your faith is all that is left, you learn to stand strong on the character and the Word of God. Without trials and struggles faith becomes soft and too weak to help us stand. It is in these difficult seasons that our faith, like a muscle, gets “a workout” and becomes stronger.
But back to our original question – What does faith look like? How can we learn to have real faith in a real world? By focusing our hearts on a real God and our minds on a real Word. Let me give you an example from my own life.
I am in the middle of a difficult season in my life. I am confronted daily with a situation that breaks my heart and there is nothing I can do to change it. God knows I have tried. After several exhausting months, I’ve finally come to the point of understanding: this one is out of my control. All I have left now is my faith in God and His Word. At first I begged and pleaded with God to make this problem go away. I knew this situation was not God’s will and I told Him so. As it drug on and took many twists and turns, I began to have physical and emotional health issues from the stress. I was sorely distracted from the work God had called me to and thought about giving up. Then I realized that is just what the devil was after – to make me abandon the kingdom work and run back into my protective shell. But God (oh, how I love those two words!) began to slowly turn my heart from desperation to dependence. I started meditating more on God’s character and less on the problem at hand. I began searching the Scriptures so I could pray God’s Word over the matter. I stopped telling God what I thought He should do and began telling Him that I trusted Him in whatever He chose to do. God gave me a phrase that has become almost a mantra whenever Satan starts to taunt me over the situation: “I have rested the matter in the hands of my Father.” Mind you, the issue still isn’t resolved, it is ongoing and looks even bleaker than when it first began. The devil continues to hammer away at me, but I run that phrase over and over in my head, and often speak it out loud so that I know the enemy can hear me. I cannot describe the peace that has come to me since.
That is real faith for real life. It is making the moment by moment determination to keep my focus on God’s power, faithfulness, strength and promises. It is trusting in Him rather than trying to solve the problem on my own. It is looking into the Word of God for a word for my soul, and praying His will through His Word. It is coming before Him in raw honesty and allowing Him to soothe my wounded heart and calm my frantic spirit. And most importantly it is holding up my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16), remembering His character, remembering His Words and choosing to believe that He is with me in the battle; and God never loses a battle.
The early martyrs found the faith they needed the same way, remembering God’s promises, looking to Him for strength and holding out hope – not in a solution to their problems – but in the steadfast character of their God. Like Peter, we must keep our eyes on the Savior in the storm. And thankfully, like Peter, we can trust that He will grab onto us when we lose our focus. He is forever faithful. He is a real God for real life.
Holy Father, platitudes will not sustain my faith, but keeping my mind and heart focused on Your character and Your Word always will. Help me Lord to have real faith in a real God as I live this real life in a real world. Amen.
 Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are taken from the New International Version of the Bible.