What Does Faith look like? What does it mean to have faith?

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” [Mark 9:24]

This has been my prayer, no, it has been the cry that has consumed my entire being for the past 9 months. The cry that has been constantly in my mind, heart and on my lips and it had been getting increasingly desperate as the days went on by.

Some major family issues coupled with my dad’s health situation had steadily began to weigh on my faith. All I wanted was for my dad to get better, to help him get better and when I saw that it wasn’t happening, I’d be like “God, why aren’t you with me on this? Kwani you don’t care?” I had taken my role as caregiver too personally and literally, that I began to feel like it’s my job to get my dad better. So I was trying everything and doing all I can but kept coming up short, the pressure unbearable. What a way to live. (Sigh!) Well, a couple of days ago I felt compelled to put the internal discourse I have been having with God down on paper. The issue was too huge to remain inside so even though I’m not a journaller, I felt like talking out my issue with God on the pages of my notebook would help. This sit down was necessary for God to have a chance to speak the truth into my being, and replace my all-over-the-place thoughts with peace, clarity and direction. All I knew is that I wanted this faith that moves mountains because these mountains in my life need to move.

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I want to believe and have things happen as a result of the faith I have in Christ. I believe but things don’t necessarily happen automatically or as I hope they will. Even in persistence. Where am I going wrong if I am? Is it that I have so little of it (faith) or that the quality of it is wanting? Or maybe what I think is faith actually is not. Oh God! Show me. Teach me.

Give me faith. A heart of faith. That trusts in you. Teach me faith. Train me? Is it that faith develops through training? Oh God! The training is not fun. Oh my! Is it true that in this process of me praying, trusting you, tough times, feeling like you’ve let me down, the constant stretching, being pushed to make difficult decisions and do things I’ve never done before (without even being sure if they are in your will), this constant pain in my heart that comes from a desperation to have you intervene in my desperate circumstances, this constant feeling discomfort, discontent, disquiet, missing something; a deep need of you….. you are actually training me? Are you actually building my faith Lord? O Lord! I need a major breakthrough – what must I do?
Maybe I should give myself and my God no rest (in prayer) until he answers me. Show him how much I need his intervention. Is that it? [Isaiah 62] 

Now I do pray, and sometimes find that as I pray, I am actually battling on two fronts – fighting for the thing I’m praying for, and fighting off the enemy who is constantly trying to sabotage my prayers. Some of the battles I’ve fought while on my knees are thoughts that “God will do whatever he wants so why bother to pray?” Or “Lord I’m just praying but I know you’ll still do what you want”. It would change to “Lord please answer me I’m begging you” (but I still would not be 100% sure he’ll do it, like I wouldn’t be fully convinced of the Lord’s intentions). Is this unbelief? God help me.
I’ve always told my dad that our job is to pray. And it is God’s job to answer. Ours is to ask and believe. It is not ours to pre-empt what God wants to do or what his answer will be, because he’s the one who said to ask. But still, I had trouble believing deep down that God’s gonna do it. It’s not that I doubt, no. I believe. It’s just that it’s more of a head belief than a strong inner conviction. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t answered yet that I kinda doubt his intentions. And maybe, I think I focus too much on the mountain of a problem that it clouds my feelings. So I guess faith means I fix my eyes and heart and mind on Christ – the one whom I trust, and who alone can save me. Yes. And prayer. This giving our God no rest goes together with fixing our eyes away from the problem, and onto Jesus. Pray with your eyes on God, not on the problem. Change your focus – what you focus on. He is a god of faithfulness and without injustice. When all you see are the problems, God starts becoming the villain in your eyes. He becomes the god who sits back while his children suffer. This I know, is not true.

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God helped me to change my focus and immediately I did that, my attitude started shifting such that now, even when I see negatives e.g. in my dad’s health my first thought is not “Ngai sasa he’s just getting worse…” I will now be like “God you’ve got this” – I acknowledge the current situation but I don’t let it overwhelm me. I focus on the God who is in control and well able to turn it around. It’s a deliberate, intentional frame of mind. Just this morning God reminded how every morning (even in the thick of it all), we would give thanks to God for keeping us (safe) through the night but in retrospect, I realise that my attitude deep inside was more like “…thank you Lord….although you know you could do more…”

The day I started having this conversation with God, I had earlier that morning felt God strongly impress upon my heart to fast and pray about my dad’s health situation. Now, most times that I fast, it has been upon an impression from the Lord to do so. You know, those times when his hand is so powerful on you, that you can do nothing else but obey fully?

It was during this time that he dropped this nugget into my spirit, that changed everything: when God impresses upon you to pray about something, he intends to answer it.

When God impresses upon you to pray about something, he intends to answer it

I immediately felt this overwhelming relief and conviction that God indeed cared. He has not left me to my own devices. Despite how the situation looks like, I am not alone. His intentions towards me (and us) are good. He intends to answer my prayers. He doesn’t invite us to ask, seek, knock if he has no intention of answering us. So get praying and get encouraged.

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