Someone close to me is going through a period of growth and challenge in her faith we like to call: "Her life."
A woman who has faced numerous challenges and struggles since before I met her, she has remained a woman of faith and focus -- dedicated to doing the right thing and getting stuff done, living in faith, and developing as a person.
Today we spoke about how she's depending on God today to provide her a place to live by the end of the month. This has been a season of growth for her, as she's worked hard to follow God out of a mindset of poverty and expectations of life's lowest common denominator, and instead embracing that God has better things for her. We're not talking prosperity gospel where God only gives stuff to us and doesn't really require much of her. Nor am I saying the years of struggle she's endured has somehow earned her God's blessings. She hasn't, and couldn't.
None of us can.
But in her prayer time, in her communion with God, He has made her a simple yet powerful promise: the latter will be greater than the former.
She knows he made her that promise, but the prospect of having nowhere to go and no real way to get there in her older age has set her fear standing. She struggles against that fear, and all this in spite of decades of God pushing and stretching and making her into someone of deep faith, someone who has seen God come through time and time again.
Does it diminish her in any way to say that after years of struggle she still must fight to bear her faith? No.
Does it diminish the concept of faith that it must be renewed daily against fearful circumstances? No.
Does knowing God automatically banish all fears and doubts and concerns from our hearts and minds? No.
Is there some pinnacle of our relationship with God and pursuit of faith that allows us to leave all our other cares behind? Still, no.
Faith is not a rank, upgrade or point-based achievement by which we can master and then no longer tend. Faith must remain as daily a choice as climbing out of bed, of going to work or cleaning up the messes we make. Faith is a choice, and it must be renewed at every turn.
This sounds exhausting -- why must we continue to fight to know and appreciate God?
I think most long-term successful marriages would tell you that even if you married the absolute perfect mate, it still requires a daily choice to keep that a real and viable relationship. A failure to communicate honestly can tear asunder even the most destined of lovers.
Faith is not very different in that regard. What can't be ignored, however, is that we don't marry our parents, and God promises Jesus as our future spiritual husband, but God, himself, remains a father figure for the same reason we might consider any man in our lives as a father figure -- he has something to teach us that will develop us as people.
He is the sensei, the master, the teacher, the guide, and as you grow in faith, he will continue to challenge you. As believers, all we see is the endless challenge, and it's not long before we question if we've moved anywhere at all. "Why do I struggle so much after so long?"
It's because God keeps your ability to grow leveraged directly against the depth of struggle before you in a way that makes it feel like the struggle doesn't change. It's like being in a car that accelerates at the same rate for a long period of time. We feel the same pressure as we sit in the seats, but we must remember that we can only feel that pressure as we continue to accelerate, moving ever faster.
Were we to attempt to face today's struggle at sometime in our past, we surely would have fallen flat. We would not have been able to deal with it, and we would be the worse for it. But today we can face that struggle, and in the future, today's struggles would be easy in comparison.
That means daily, we must choose to believe. In the midst of our fear, our doubt and our concern, we can't sit on our laurels and expect our faith, as if it were some kind of power or rank, to buffer us from concerns of the world. Instead, it is a daily exercise to make our faith strong, to depend on that faith -- on God, to come through, to deliver on his promises made in the Bible and in our quiet moments of communion with him.
For you who struggle, don't fear that you don't have enough faith. Ask that God would reveal that faith within you and help you continue to develop, grow, draw closer to him and learn to shift your gaze from the circumstantial and temporal to the ancient and the timeless, the spiritual that goes above today's concerns and moves into tomorrow's peace.
Trust God, He will see you through.