Understanding faith can be achieved by various approaches. One thing might quicken your faith now, and yet a completely different thought may prompt your faith on another occasion. In fact, faith, simple as it is, is spiritual, and therefore profoundly complex. Different things will inspire faith at different times.
With that thought in mind I am sharing various Faith Factors with you, to provide various angles from which to view and understand faith. You may well find that see God for who He is quickens your faith on one occasion, while discovering your part in faith may excite your faith on another occasion.
So, here is another Faith Factor which I find important in my application of Christian faith. It is the process of Holding On.
Faith is persistent. It takes a stand, based on who God is and what He asks of us and it maintains a dogged persistence. This is what I call Holding On. But it could equally be called Pressing Through.
Faith claims God’s promises. Faith apprehends what God has for us. Faith presses in and pushes on. It is determined to claim the prize. It will not take “No” for an answer. It maintains course and defies all challenges to the stand it takes.
Now, to be realistic, there are many times when people’s faith does not maintain such heights of victorious persistence. We can all be ‘weak in faith’ and cry out the Lord in despair, rather than expectancy. Thankfully and wonderfully God comes through for us, even when we are falling in a heap.
Think of the disciples in the boat, desperately afraid they will die. Their fear and panic did not stop them receiving a miracle. Think of Gideon’s inability to believe what the angel of God told him about his ability to win a victory. Yet God continued to uphold him, bearing with his insecurity, until the fearful one had won a great victory.
Yet, for all that, there is a wonderful aspect of faith that is victorious, persistent, unconquerable and soul stirring.
Faith in Action
Faith is seen in the actions of the one who holds it. We are told by the Apostle James that “faith without works is dead”, James 2:20.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26
When faith is present there will be some resultant actions which attest to it being there. Faith itself becomes the evidence and substance of what is believed for.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Faith is therefore best seen when a person purposes to believe in unseen substance and then acts accordingly.
The Action of Resting
When I talk about faith being linked to action, or faith being seen in the ‘works’ of one who believes, I do not want you to think only of busy activity. One of the most powerful actions of a man of faith is ‘rest’.
In the face of fear people become agitated. They may engage in busy work. They may tend to talk a lot, fidget, run to and fro looking for help, and so on. In such a case the act of ‘resting’ is a powerful testimony to a person’s faith.
Hebrews 3 and 4 address this factor of ‘rest’ as a result of faith. Those who do not trust God are not able to enter into rest. Those who trust God cease their own labours, relying on God to do what man cannot do. This does not mean inactivity, but it does mean the cessation of futile human energy thrown at some problem.
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” Hebrews 3:18
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Hebrews 4:3
“For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:10,11
The Action of Rejoicing
Another work of faith which I love to see is the rejoicing of one who is confident in God. If you knew that God had solved your problem you would break into rejoicing, song, praise and worship.
Coming to a place of confident celebration in the outcome, before the outcome has become visible is a ‘work’ of faith. Because, by faith, you have the ‘substance’ of what you are believing for, even before the answer has arrived, you now not only rest, but you rejoice. What joy it is to be confident that God has solved the problem and met every need!
Don’t Give In
I am reminded of an occasion before I was married when I faced a faith challenge to hold on and press through in faith. I was working using an oxy-torch to melt brass in a metal fabrication process. I was manufacturing hundreds of pieces and my protective gloves developed holes over time.
I accidentally turned the naked flame onto my exposed thumb and burned it badly. In agonising pain I hastily turned off the flame, pulled off the glove and pressed my good hand onto the burnt thumb, praying madly for protection.
I had heard many testimonies of God’s healing power in response to prayer and I prayed keenly, knowing that I was badly burned and desperately needed healing. The workshop in which I was working was empty at the time. After my initial cries of pain and desperate prayer, I headed across the open factory floor, toward the foreman’s office. I knew that there was a special burn spray in the office which I could put onto my thumb.
Half way across the factory I was pulled up by a thought. I realised that if I had prayed in faith and believed God to heal me, then I would not need to use the spray. However, my thumb still pained badly. I lifted my hand to look at the thumb and its skin was burned brown. I was in a dilemma. I wanted to act in faith, but I also wanted my thumb to have the best chance of recovery. Faith said, “You have prayed, now leave it to God and expect His good work”. Realism said, “Your thumb is very badly burned. You need to get it attended to.”
I was caught between those two opinions for quite a while. Then I decided that I would rather act in faith and please God, than to throw my faith away, just because of my pain. I turned and went back to my work bench. I gingerly pulled on the stiff, worn gloves, re-lit the torch, and went back to work.
The heat of the torch made my thumb pain even more. I had to work slowly, because of how sensitive my skin was. But I felt good about having chosen to act in faith.
Over the next hour the pain subsided and I just got on with my work. By the end of the day the brown burn had subsided to a small area in the middle of the thumb. By the next morning there was hardly a sign that my thumb had been burned at all. I was healed, beyond all reason. I had chosen well to hold on in faith.
Heroes of Faith
Hebrews 11 records some heroes of faith who suffered torture. They were heroes of faith because they held on to their believing. They would not be dissuaded, even by the threat of death or torture.
While we all love the accounts of faith that wins out in the end, it is not the outcome that is important to God, but the faith that is expressed in willingness to press through.
Remember the three Jewish boys in Nebuchadnezzar’s court who refused to bow to his idol. They were threatened with death in the fiery furnace. They declared their confidence that God would deliver them, but they added that even if He did not save them they would not bow.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18
Hang in There
Faith survives the many challenges which are thrown up against it. Faith finds rest when others are afraid. Faith delights in outcomes which have not yet occurred. Faith praises God for His deliverance, while the battle is still raging.
Faith hums a song of happy expectancy, while others wring their hands in anxiety.
So, hang in there. Press through in faith. Determine to trust God, even if it appears that all is lost.
Remember that God is pleased to see you faith. God will be delighted with you, no matter how things work out in the natural circumstances. Hang in there and bring a smile to God’s face by your determination to trust Him, no matter what.