Monday, July 16, 2012

Do You Need More Faith?

For more than 5½ years I’ve been attending cardiac rehab exercise classes three times a week. At the end of each year the staff do a brief review and ask about fitness goals for the next year. Last time I told the physical therapist I wanted more muscles.

“What?” she asked. “More muscles,” I repeated. “Stronger muscles?” she inquired. “No, I just want additional muscles, maybe two, or four.”

Actually, I didn’t say that. Wouldn’t it have been foolish if I had? When we’re born, the muscles we will use throughout life are already there. They’re not very strong and will require lots of developing, but the muscle groups are all in place. They just need to be strengthened with time. You have to learn to use what you’ve got.

I think of that when I hear people say something like, “I need more faith” or “I just don’t have enough faith.” It’s tempting to ask, “How much more do you need? Three pounds? Another quart?” The Bible indicates that, like muscles in the body, faith – what we might call spiritual muscle – is supplied as God sees fit.

For instance, Romans 12:3 urges, “…think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” This passage says when Jesus Christ comes into our lives, we receive “a measure of faith” – apparently whatever God determines we need. Because in 2 Peter 1:3 we are told, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

The problem is, we really don’t like living by faith. We want to trust and act upon what we can see and touch. That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, We live by faith, not by sight.”

Like muscles, we don’t need more faith. We need to exercise the faith we have to make it stronger. Life provides plenty of opportunities: career crossroads, financial difficulties, health challenges, family problems, sudden crises. When confronted with the unknown and uncertain, do we cower in fear, or power through the issues in our own strength? Or do we stop, admit the situations are beyond our control, and then, in faith, ask God to intervene?

I don’t possess what the Bible terms the “gift of faith,” but over the years the Lord has guided us through numerous faith-building experiences, circumstances that seemed overwhelming but in retrospect were opportunities to step aside and see what God could do.

A friend of mine used to say, “Thank God for adversity.” Hardships that seemed insurmountable had forced him to trust the Lord when there were no alternatives. And in the process, his faith grew stronger.

Are you exercising your faith today, enabling it to grow stronger, or trying to “tough it out” on your own, letting your spiritual muscles atrophy?

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