46 God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
2 That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
3 when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,
the holiest dwelling of the Most High.
5 God is in that city. It will never crumble.
God will help it when morning dawns.
6 Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
God utters his voice; the earth melts.
7 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah
8 Come, see the Lord’s deeds,
what devastation he has imposed on the earth—
9 bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world,
breaking the bow and shattering the spear,
burning chariots with fire.
10 “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!
I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!”
11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah (Psalm 46:1-11, Common English Bible)
“Everyone has faith in something,” says Professor of Mathematics John Lennox from Oxford University. He makes the claim that even atheists have faith in something and he is correct. Lennox tells us the word faith more than a religious word. It comes from the Latin word fides, which means “trust” or “reliance.
An obvious example is the Christian who has faith that God walks with them. For an atheist, an equal claim to having faith in something, the atheist knows when attacking something from the Christian faith, that Christians are going to get upset and vocal about it.
Both groups have faith that when you put the key in the ignition of your car (or have the remote in your pocket for cars that just need to remote nearby so instead the ignition button gets pushed) the car will start. When it doesn’t start, something is wrong and you either fix it, call a mechanic, or walk. The next time you might not be quite as faithful about that car starting.
One of my favorite bloggers to read is BeBe Nicholson. She is a pretty regular writer on Medium. Her latest post regarded the possibility of building or growing faith during difficult times. And make no mistake, from the politics of our times to hurricanes to racial and social unrest to a virus that won’t go away, we are in times that are extraordinarily difficult. For many of us, the time we are experiencing today may be the most extraordinary in history.
Ms. Nicholson moves on to talk about building of faith, particularly in the good times so we are better prepared for the hard times. There is an old Southern Gospel song, by the Hemphills, “It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark.” That is faith.
Some of the ways Ms. Nicholson said we grow our faith starts with studying Scripture. 2 Timothy 3: 16–17, scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, training in righteousness and equipping us for good works. Reading and studying Scripture is faith-building. It helps us to know we can depend on God.
We build and strengthen our faith through prayer. I will be preaching on prayer this Sunday. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” I am not sure what the disciples meant in this question but I know what it means to me. Perhaps they meant, “Teach me how to pray.” I don’t find that this interpretation is most needed by me. I have things like The Lord’s Prayer to teach me how to pray. Far closer to my need is, Lord teach me that I should pray, that I need to pray. Lord teach me to pray even when I don’t want to because that might be when I need to talk to you most.
Ms. Nicholson’s third idea to grow faith is through fellowship. We need the support of other like-minded people. When we feel at just about our lowest point, being with other people of faith can have a huge on us and can build our faith back.
Those were Ms. Nicholson’s three. I would like to quickly share four that came to my mind.
First is worship. At times when we are down being at and truly participating can make a great difference. God created us to be social creatures, I believe for this reason. We are not walking this road alone. God is with us and just about as importantly, God’s children are with us. I say about as importantly because sometimes God speaks to us through others placed in our lives.
Second is serving. I worked on a sermon mission trip one summer and I felt amazed by people who had little but still had so much faith in God. Seeing their faithfulness strengthened my own.
Third, sharing your story. When our faith seems to be at its lowest, if telling your story does noting else, it reminds us of all God has done for us in the past. If we open our eyes and look, there are times we can see God’s hand touching our lives to build us up.
And fourth, through our giving. Jesus, in referring to the widow who left her two pennies in the offering plate talked about her being blessed and that she was blessed because she had given everything she had. I think about this story and it is one of those I can sit back and close my eyes and see the story play out. Imagine, as she leaves the synagogue and starts walking home, someone runs to her and hands her vegetables and bread for no apparent reason except, she was faithful to God and God was faithful to her. Wouldn’t something like that build our faith?
Ms. Nicholson closes her post by saying, “Faith is always a choice.” Paul says, faith is a gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9). I believe it is all of that and more, because God is with us and builds our faith. Just as important remember, “Where God is, there is always hope.” That ‘s faith.
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved