Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
It was an August morning five years ago that I embarked on a journey that would forever alter my life. As I went for an early morning walk before church, the words to the song Voice of Truth echoed through my mind:
Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in, onto the crashing waves; to step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown, where Jesus is—and He’s holding out His hand (Casting Crowns)
I have no doubt that God gave me those words that morning. I knew that He was calling me out of my comfort zone, but I had no idea what the journey would entail. I can now look back and see the results of the fiery trial I have been through, and I love what it has done in my life. But, just when I think I am settling in and reaching the final stage, I find a new obstacle in my path—a new mountain that must be moved!
What has been my trial—the journey that has built my faith? The morning I heard that song, my husband was planning to resign from his position as pastor of our church. It was creating tremendous turmoil for me because I couldn’t understand how God would ask us to forsake the very calling He had placed on both of our lives. But, with those words echoing through my mind, we confidently tendered our resignation to a shocked congregation. Every comfort, every security I had known was suddenly taken away from me. I was outside the boat…or so I thought.
Within a few days of the resignation, the remaining security in my life was ripped away as revelations of adultery were brought into the light. And yet I clung to God’s promise to carry me through the storm. As I begged God to spare my marriage, to use this mess for His glory, hope began to fade. Eventually, I found myself a single mom of three kids. My faith was definitely being put to the test.
I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5
My entire life had been spent serving God, but my faith had never really been tested. As I see the difference in my life now, I must say with Job that before these trials I didn’t really know Him. I had taught scripture for years, but now I have lived it. I had known about the Jehovah Jireh, my provider, but I had never met Him. I had heard about the comforter, but I had never needed His presence. I had heard about the healer, but I had never needed His touch. Through the last few years, I have been the one in need. I have needed my provider, and He has been there. I have needed security, and He was there. I have needed healing, and He was there. I discovered that whatever my need, He is the answer. I have discovered the Great I Am.
Even as I have seen my faith grow by leaps and bounds, I find myself today weeping, begging God to send reassurance. You see, God has given me a revelation. He has opened my eyes and given me a glimpse into my future. I have spent over a year wrestling with Him in prayer, begging Him to show me if I am wrong about what I sense. Instead, He constantly and repeatedly reassures me that I have heard His voice.
…they follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4b
After months and months of prayer, God gave me this verse. He gently said, “Dena, you have been my lamb for many years. You have trained yourself to know my voice. You know that this is me speaking. Now, go in faith and trust that I will do what I have promised.” I walked away in that moment, confident of God’s plan. I’ve still had some roller coaster days—days where my faith wavers—but God always sends reassurances in those moments.
Today I have found myself sinking in the mire of doubts. I have found myself thinking that I am a fool to believe this particular prayer will ever be answered. I find myself thinking that I simply need to move on, to forget about it, to go on with my life.
But I can’t.
God simply won’t allow me to let go of this dream. He won’t let me walk away from the hope that He is the source of this dream. My heart is so deeply entrenched that there’s no way out. It seems completely improbable—even impossible—that this prayer will ever be answered, and yet I can’t escape it. It haunts my thoughts and prayers day and night.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 1 Corinthians 4:16-18
When I find my faith wavering, I have to find ways to defeat the doubts—ways to fix my eyes on the eternal. That’s where I am today—crying out to God to help my unbelief. It’s a tough place to be, but I remind myself that God is working an unshakeable faith into me. I’ve already seen the results of this journey, but apparently God says He’s not finished yet; He still wants my faith to grow in ways that I don’t yet understand.
Over the years, I’ve found a few clues on how to get through the difficult days of waiting for God to act, of waiting for Him to accomplish His purpose in me.
- Remember all He has said and done. The Israelites were commanded to celebrate the Passover every year to remember all that God had done for them, to remember the ways He had rescued them from the bondage of Egypt. As I look back over my life, I am comforted by God’s faithfulness, by all the ways He has guided my life and directed me. I am comforted by the promise that He is a God who keeps His promises, a God whose promises never fail (Joshua 23:14). I review all of the times God has spoken directly to me concerning this situation, and I remember that God is unable to break His promises.
- Immerse myself in scripture and prayer. I am a firm believer that victory begins in the mind. Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are lovely, noble, true, and right. In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we are told that we have the mind of Christ. As the tears stung my eyes tonight, I looked up to find Exodus 14:14 hanging on my wall: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. As I brushed my teeth before bed, I saw Psalm 37:7 posted on my mirror: Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. I knew that God was reminding me that He was still in control, that He was working behind the scenes, that I just need to wait for Him to act.
- Look at doubts as an opportunity to experience God’s grace and to hear His voice. As I find myself doubting, I cry out to God begging Him for reassurance. He is always faithful! Sometimes it’s a scripture. Other times it’s His voice whispering, “Trust me!” Sometimes, it comes from another person. My precious daughter spent her evening asking if I was alright, doing what she could to comfort me in my distress. As we kneeled to pray before bed, she asked to pray first. She prayed with such amazing faith, knowing that God has led us to this place and will see us through. She never asked God to answer this prayer; she only asked that God would give us the faith and patience to see us through until He was ready to make it happen. Oh, how I long for that child-like faith!
Isaiah 26:3 has become my verse, the one that reminds me how to get through the daily trials.
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
When my mind fails to focus on God but is instead distracted by the trials of this life, I lose my peace and I begin to doubt. But, when I focus my thoughts on the answer to all my problems—Jesus Christ—He promises to keep me in perfect peace.