A few years ago I remember hearing the saying –
“I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brains to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience and God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I asked for everything so I could enjoy life.
Instead, He gave me life so I could enjoy everything.
I received nothing I wanted, I received everything I needed.” – Unknown
I remember thinking, “well, shoot…surely there is a better way? Can’t I just make good choices and be wise, say my prayers and have faith and be a good girl and be patient?” But no, it unfortunately doesn’t work that way. Where the rubber meets the road is where these qualities develop fully. Over the past few years, I have grown in my faith, patience and wisdom by being changed by the Holy Spirit working through circumstances that God has allowed in my life.
For one, I have learned that walking by faith is never comfortable. Unless I am truly out of my comfort zone, I can’t be walking by faith, that’s just the nature of it. If I know how to do everything, and I know how it will turn out, where am I having to take chances and step out into the unknown? I like the stories of David and Daniel in the Bible, just as two of the many examples of extraordinary faith in God’s word. I have heard these stories over and over again and have already told short versions to the babies where we blithely point to the lions and talk about the giant Goliath like it’s nothing. I have become immune to the power in these stories but when I stop to really think, these men exhibited such extreme faith in these situations! David came up against Goliath when he was just a simple shepherd. Not a soldier, not an Israeli Ninja Warrior, not a master of kung fu. This was a young man who was used to spending his day hanging out with sheep, who are docile and to be honest quite dumb. I am pretty sure he could outsnart them easily, even if they were stronger than him. He came to his brothers not realizing he would change the course of history that day with just his slingshot and his stones. He was so far out of his comfort zone that everyone watching must have thought he needed his head examined!
Then look at Daniel. He was in a foreign country, and everyone was out to get him but he stood his ground. And you know where that got him? Face to face with some big, mean lions. The fact that they are in a den locked up probably means that they are cranky to begin with, and probably quite hungry. Just imagine the size of those paws and teeth when they are right in front of you, thinking you’d make a tasty lunch. I have NEVER had to exercise my faith in a moment like that! But the size of the giant, and the jaws of the lions didn’t overwhelm the faith of these two men. See, we know how these stories end because we have read ahead, but they didn’t – they were just there, probably filled with fear, but calling on the name of the God they prayed would save them. To be in the moment, face to face with certain death just made them stronger and fully reliant on God and proved that certain isn’t certain after all when you have faith.
The second thing I have learned is that faith, peace and joy are decisions you have to make, not things that just ARE. You have to choose your mindset in every situation, every moment, and every uncertainty. Faith does not have power in your life unless you exercise it, let it grow and thoroughly saturate your life and your choices. To say that I live by faith but try to do everything on my own does not make my faith grow or change me. Often, living by faith isn’t pretty – people around you may think you’re crazy for the choices you make or don’t make. You may give up special opportunities because you hear a whisper from God that it’s not for you. You may not have worldly goods or money because that lucrative job wasn’t really the job God wanted for you, so you turn away knowing God will provide even if it looks crazy. Faith is something we all like to say we have but don’t like to actually have to use because it’s uncomfortable to be in a place where you’re not in control – that’s faith in a nutshell. The same for patience and wisdom – you have to use these qualities and choose them, time after time, in order for them to be real parts of your character. You can’t just instantly wake up and be patient or wise, it’s a process of development that comes through each decision in your life.
Lastly, since becoming a parent, I understand more about having the childlike faith the Bible calls for us to have – does my daughter wonder if she will be warm, sheltered and fed or that I have her best interests at heart? No, she just inherently knows that I am her mother and I love her and naturally all of those things will follow. We should be that way with God, trusting Him for all of the best just because He is our Father and loves us so much. I remember being young and terrified to jump off of the diving board of the pool into my father’s waiting arms because I was petrified of him not catching me. I let my fear overwhelm the knowledge that I had that my dad would do anything to keep me from being harmed.
It all comes down to trust. We just have to pray, trust, and jump into God’s waiting arms even though the deep end is scary and we may be over our heads – He will catch you every single time and keep you afloat.