We all hate challenges and frequently our prayers are for the difficulties in life to just go away. “Please heal this sickness, fix this financial woe, give me a good grade, land me this job.” God must feel like a parent of a demanding, ungrateful child. We are sometimes grateful when all is going well, though the gratefulness is quickly replaced with other cares of this world and we put God on the back burner for a more convenient time when we need him.
But if we don’t feed our soul during times of blessing, we won’t have the roots to ground us when the challenges come and come they will.
Recently a good friend of mine endured months of pain and suffering before his physical body expired and his spirit soared to heaven. He had to look death in the face and determine if the words that expressed his faith in the past were real. As my friend suffered, he frequently told me he would rather just go to be with Jesus. But it was not just the alleviation of his pain that he sought but it was his keen anticipation of meeting his savior face to face.
Faith does not get built in the times when the “world is all it should be”. Just as our muscles don’t gain strength unless they are used and stretched beyond comfort, our faith does not grow without testing and the challenges of life either grow our faith or move us toward more doubt.
Why do we doubt? Satan is roaming the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy and he loves to plant doubts in our hearts. Adverse circumstances are one of his greatest tools. God did not heal a loved one, grant us the job or take away the financial reversal so He may not be there or if He is, He cannot be trusted to meet my needs. We pray diligently for God to answer and all we get is silence and the overwhelming feeling that God is going to do what God is going to do and our prayers are irrelevant. We are left with the emptiness of doubt.
But then we are left with the question Peter asked our Lord, “where are we going to go?”
Our minds become so earthly focused that we forget God’s perspective is eternal. This life is the starting point for an eternal existence and the faith our Lord described is not of this world only but it looks ahead to the ultimate reward in eternity. Just as the Pharisees of the gospels focused more on their own agenda than the miracles surrounding them, we can focus on our own agenda and miss the wonder of God’s perfect will.
As that famous theologian, Garth Brooks said, “I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Often our prayers ask for the wrong things or even for blessings that are far smaller than what God has in mind. When we are focused on God meeting our agenda, we are moving toward doubt. When our eyes are looking with anticipation to His will, our hearts move toward faith. He has proven over and over again He can be trusted. The majesty of creation, including the miraculous functioning of our own bodies show us God’s faithfulness and consistency. But we are in a broken, sinful world and a battle between the forces of darkness and the heavenly armies is raging in the spiritual realm.
Gratitude is the most tangible weapon against doubt. When I am thanking God for the millions of blessings he has heaped on me my heart if full of joy and confidence in Him. As I am tested, I am reminded of His faithfulness and I move toward trusting Him for His perfect will which is so much grander than my wildest imaginations. I let go of my control driven by my limited wisdom and experience and trust Him who loved me so much he gave His son for me.
About the Author:
Durwood Snead headed the international work of North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, GA, where he led a multi-campus and worldwide effort that mobilized thousands to help at risk children and families in a sustainable way. Before joining North Point in 2002, Durwood’s twenty six years of business experience included executive assignments at Construction Market Data Group, and A.C. Nielsen where he pioneered new businesses, engineered international purchases and crafted joint ventures.
Durwood also served on the boards of Pioneers and Spoken Worldwide. He has traveled extensively, doing business and ministry in over seventy countries. Durwood Snead remains active in his retirement and currently serves on the boards of Hope International, Heart for Lebanon, Step Forward and World Outreach Fund and is very involved in racial reconciliation work in his local community. Durwood has been blessed with his wife Judi of 48 years, five grown children and fourteen grandchildren (so far).