Faith is a strong belief…a conviction-that something is true whether or not it can be proven.
Everyone has faith in something. What do you believe? Many of us who profess to have faith crumble under pressure. God wants us to see for ourselves that what we say with our lips sometimes doesn’t match up to what is in our hearts. I’ve discovered that whatever is in my heart is squeezed to the surface when I am under pressure. My faith is tested often. So it is with us all. Sometimes this is the only way to discover what we truly believe in. Sometimes this is the only way to know the true measure of our faith.
Our belief system can help or hinder us. Faith in the right things can carry us over life’s rough patches when our own physical and/or emotional strength gives out. This is ‘Positive Faith’. Faith in the wrong things (negative faith) is much more common because it is a product of our erratic emotions.
Here’s an example from my own life of Negative Faith…
Spiders take up residence everywhere in the country. Most are good to have around. I don’t mind sharing my country space with the good ones. However, I have a real issue with any insect that can cause an emergency visit to the hospital. That is why the Black Widow and Brown Recluse are the source of some anxiety for me, and are not on my welcome list.
Not long ago I picked up a trash bag from the backyard and tried stuffing it into a trash can that was already overstuffed. The day this particular incident happened I was in a hurry to go somewhere. So I did what seemed the next best thing, I placed the bag on top of the pile, deciding to move it to the curb just as it was. When I put my hand under the bag, and grabbed hold of the handle with my other hand, something popped under my thumb. I cringed as I looked under the handle to see what had exploded. To my dismay, I caught sight of a bunch of black legs extending from a pool of gooey mess. My first thought was“Black Widow!”
Not wanting to give in to the worst possibilities, I proceeded to wash my hands so that we could leave as planned. That is when I noticed the red spot near my thumb. A strange feeling washed over me as I stared at the mark that seemed to be growing right before my eyes. Fear besieged me and my body began to react to my raging emotions. Unexpected waves of fear and doubt caused me to physically struggle against the terror that was quickly overtaking me. The more I entertained the thought that I had been bitten by the infamous Widow, the sicker I felt. My stomach got so upset that I almost threw up. My ears got hot and my head began to swim. I managed to reel in my emotions long enough to profess faith in God’s ability to protect me from harm. But, when I picked up a phone book to call a doctor,‘Just to check on symptoms,’my knees got weak and my body began to shake.
Prayer should always be our first response to any crisis. This is especially true if your tendency is to run for medical assistance with every unfamiliar twinge in your body. It’s good to know your body and to know your mind. Considering my uncanny ability to create five-act plays from one random thought, I had a notion that my symptoms might be caused by my own anxiety, and was not thoroughly convinced that I was mortally wounded. So, I forced myself to hang up the phone and resumed praying.
My decision to continue standing on God’s Word was not an easy one. Until 9:00 that night panic kept attacking me. I had to keep reminding myself that God promised to protect me (Ps 91); that my faith would shield me against harm (Eph 6:16); that God’s spirit within me is able to overcome anything. (1Jn 4:4) These promises enabled me to overcome the urge to panic in the midst of doubt and fear.
This episode taught me a lesson. Believing strongly in the worst possibility is an expression of faith. It’s just faith in the wrong thing. When the fear of getting sick causes us to get sick, or when doubt causes us to panic, we are exhibiting very strong faith. When you look at it this way you will realize how much focus you are capable of. All you have to do is learn to channel your ability to focus on the right thing.
Emotions are powerful engines. They can drive you to places you’ve never dreamed of going. Fear can paralyze you. Anger can cloud your mind and cause you to groundlessly harm others. Grief will consume your energy. Despair can cripple you into inactivity. Whenever emotions control your responses to situations, faith in God—in His ability to take control of your problems—can’t be exercised.
Negative emotions like doubt and fear show us we’ve been exercising the wrong Faith Muscle. God has given each of us a measure of faith that is built up by reading the bible and dismissing anything that does not line up with truth. You will know when your faith is firmly established when you can say“If God said it, then that settles it.”