Faith - The second week of Advent
The theme of the second week of Advent is Faith!
Wow, this is a big word. I mean how do you break down faith?
“Have faith” we are told. Have faith in God. Have faith in the system. Have faith in yourself. Keep the faith.
So what does faith really look like? What does it mean? How can it grow? How do we "Keep the Faith"?
Faith is believing - no matter what.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Faith is having confidence in what you cannot see or prove. It is a knowing, deep in your soul. Faith is believing. Faith follows hope. So it makes sense that week one’s theme is Hope followed by week two’s theme of Faith.
Faith is more than being hopeful that a certain thing will take place, a certain way, a certain time. We can hope for a new job, a raise, a particular home, etc. But we can have faith that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
That is why my friends, I encourage you to put your faith in God’s hands. It is common to pray for a specific thing. To think we know what we want, what’s best. But it is better to believe that Romans 8:28 is true and that God is working things out for your good!
My friends, we can have faith in God, because He keeps His promises. Even when it doesn’t look like what we hope, or think, or expect. He said He would send His son to save the world. And He did! But it didn’t look like many believers at that time planned. Many Jews had a hard time excepting him - in fact, many never did, they crucified him after all. They couldn’t get past the idea that Jesus didn’t look like what they expected. They put their faith in their own understanding instead of in God.
In my life, I have struggled with this. I prayed and believed God for particular things to happen. Relationships, raises, jobs, houses etc. There are so many times when I begged God for _______. (Fill in the blank with any specific request.) But I have learned something, well, if I am being honest, I am still learning. It is better to ask God what is best for you, what He wants and for His help in a situation rather than for a particular outcome. You see He knows things we don’t.
Like with my kids…
It’s Christmas, so this will be a good analogy, I hope.
They can ask for a specific gift or toy or game. But I know them each better than they know themselves. My son had asked for a skateboard one Christmas. But I know him and that was a phase that wasn’t going to last long. I knew a better gift would be bowling shoes and a bowling ball so that he could enjoy going bowling. It lasted longer than the passion for skateboarding. (Which he also got because he has other family members buying him gifts.) Skateboarding ended after his first minor injury.
This is such a small example of how a parent knows what is best for a child. But I hope it gives you some perspective. God is a good father and he wants to give us good things. But sometimes he knows that something else would be better - something we didn’t even know to ask for.
- But don’t get me wrong. It is okay to tell God what you are hoping for. To share your heart in prayer and talk with Him about your hopes and dreams. He is giving you hopes and we are told to ask - “you have not because you ask not.” My point being, go ahead and ask, get your hopes up. But keep your faith strong by asking God what He wants for you. Partner with Him in believing that He wants what is best for you and will make a way.
In my own life. I have asked for specific things.
Just last year I applied for a job with the county. I was highly qualified for it and it would have met my financial needs. So I applied and I prayed and I believed that I was going to get it. It made beautiful sense. Semi-flexible schedule, good pay, the ability to use skills from my previous job. It was a beautiful solution to my financial situation. But I never even got an interview! Which is crazy because I was fit the criteria perfectly.
I was pretty devastated at first. I couldn’t understand. It was a good opportunity. But God didn’t work that out for me. For the first time, instead of having a breakdown like a child throwing a tantrum, and questioning God’s faithfulness, I prayed - “I know you work all things out for my good. You promised. So please show me what to do.” I had faith He would guide me.
I really felt lead to write. To pursue this blogging thing. It was hard to start something that I had no idea how to make an income doing. I drug my feet and doubted myself. But over and over I have heard God say to me “Just write.” So I began to listen. - And can I just add how ironic it is that we always complain that God works so slowly, but have you ever taken a look at your own response time? I mean, for me I am slow to listen - like really slow. (but I am really working on getting better at it!) I was doubtful I could do it, I had to invest a lot of time into learning new things. Not to mention money. I was spending money but not making any and I had no big picture of what to do with this. But every time I tried to quit, God tugged at my heart so deeply that I couldn’t give up.
I have been blogging for just a few months now and my blog, 522gals was just selected as one of the Top 100 Blogs for Christian Women on the internet by Feedspot! That is such exciting news for me! I am honored and amazed. It is a confirmation that I am doing what God wants and moving in the right direction. I think for me, this time, it is because I followed my faith instead of making my own way.
And it was a really good thing too….
It was during this time that my daughter was having a really hard time at school and we made the difficult decision to switch from public school to homeschool. A decision that for our family has been so amazing! The freedom in her schedule. The ability to be involved in more things and even her coursework has improved. But my favorite part is the quality time. We have so much time together. It has been a season of joy. A joy I would have missed if I had gotten another job.
God knows what is coming and He knows what we need. Have faith in His promises. He is good. He loves you - even when things aren’t working out like you hope. Have faith. All things work together for your good! (eventually, so don’t give up.)
They say hindsight is 20/20. Well, that is a blessing, not a curse. Hindsight is God’s gift to help us grow in faith. As I look back now I realize if I had gotten that job with the county, I would not have been able to homeschool my daughter and that has been such a joy in our family. And I would not have had the time for energy to focus on building this ministry. I didn’t have a vision at first. I just had faith that God was speaking to me, that He had a plan and that all things will work together for my good, just the way He wants them to so that the Kingdom of Heaven is enhanced! It is an honor and a joy to be doing this work.
It doesn’t mean everything is easy and perfect. It isn’t. Homeschool has its challenges. And building an online presence isn’t as easy as I thought. But there is such a fulfillment in knowing that you are in God’s will at this time. It makes the hard stuff manageable.
Conclusion: It is better to pray for God to show you the next step than to pray for that certain thing. And just know - have faith that God is working ALL things for your Good!
Faith is a growth journey. Sometimes it is small - like a mustard seed. But that can still do wonders. Keep the faith in the God who loves you and keeps His promises.
Challenge for the week:
Spend some time this week asking God to help you grow in your Faith. Ask Him what He has for you. And even if you can’t see the big picture, take the next step.