“How do I do what?” I asked, taken by surprise at the question.
“Stay so strong in your faith.” As he went on to express how hard he was trying to believe God and help his family grow in faith, but how hard it was and how much he struggled, I knew I had to clarify one thing - I am not strong at all, and I struggle, too! I prayed a silent prayer for God to guide my response, and what came to my mind at that moment, which I shared with him, was Rom. 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The only way that we can grow in faith is through the Word of God, as we seek Him daily and fix our thoughts on Him. If I take my eyes off of Him and stop depending on Him for even a moment, I quickly falter!
As I reviewed this conversation later in my mind, I thought about the fact that faith always has an object, and I was reminded of even some recent studies that we have done in my Sunday School class at church about this very topic. What is important is not how strong my faith is, but how strong is the object of my faith.
This is why Jesus could say in Luke 17:5-6, after His disciples had asked Him to increase their faith, that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed they could see a mountain be moved and cast into the sea. The problem was not the size of their faith, but that their view of God was too limited. It is not our faith that moves mountains, but it is God’s power that will do whatever God chooses to do, and our faith is simply that which unleashes His power to work in miraculous ways!
I decided to do a little more digging in Scripture for passages that speak about faith, and I came across Hebrews 12:1-2. The really cool part is that this very same weekend my church celebrated its 50 anniversary, and the theme for the weekend was based on this exact passage! These verses further reinforced in my mind the truth that running the race with endurance and staying strong in my faith is not about my own efforts, but about that which Jesus has already done and will continue doing in my life. It is He who is the author, or source, of my faith, and He is the perfecter, or completer, of my faith as well! From beginning to end, it is His work in me! My responsibility is to keep my eyes fixed on Him and on His finished work on my behalf. If I begin to focus on my own faith or lack thereof, I will certainly become discouraged and begin to falter in the race. But if I keep my eyes on Him, trusting in Him for every step, and confident in His ability to complete what He began in me, then and only then will I be able to run with endurance the race of this life. That is the essence of enduring faith – fixing my gaze on Christ each day by seeking Him in His Word, and trusting not in my own strength or faith, but in Christ’s power to complete His work in and through me as He has promised!
Abraham is a classic example of this, as seen in Romans 4:20-21. We read that he was strengthened in his faith, because he was “fully assured that what God had promised He was able also to perform.” Likewise, we see in Hebrews 11:11 Sarah’s example of faith, in that “she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Moses, too, endured by faith when he left Egypt (Heb. 11:27), because He was focused on Him who is unseen. This reminds me of the well-known description of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
While we cannot see God, and we often cannot see how He is working or what the result will be in our lives, a faith that is founded upon and focused on His unshakeable promises and His character as revealed in His infallible Word will be steadfast and enduring. So, like the disciples, what we need is not more faith, but a bigger view of God and a gaze that is firmly fixed on Him!
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1b-2
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Gal. 2:20