Faith: The Thing We Want But Hope We Never Need

I like faith a lot better when it’s just an idea. Rather than actually needing faith, it’s nice to to simply think the happy thoughts: God will take care of me. My friends will probably come through for me.

I want to have the Faith 800 number in my wallet, but I never want to need it. I never want it to be all I’m standing on. 

After I finished my first and only year of full-time ministry, I found myself technically homeless, unemployed, totally broke, and within a couple weeks, without a car. It was at this moment I needed faith in a way I never had before. In my adult life, I’d stood on my bank account or my employment. I leaned into the resources I built for myself. But when they were all gone, the only thing I had was faith.

Suddenly faith was no abstract thing. It was very concrete. I knew exactly what I needed God to do for me. I needed a roof over my head, I needed a job, I needed a way to get from one place to the next. I published my I Need list on my blog, and within a month, I had it all: a new job, a bike, and eventually a borrowed car from a friend who deployed, money from people wanted to support me in my transition, and a place to live.

In that season, faith was the only option. I didn’t have any other choice except to hope and believe that God would do what I needed him to do.

I look back on this season of my life with great fondness. It was one of my greatest and wildest adventures, a time when people blew my mind with extravagant generosity. I never wanted to need anyone like this, need God in the way a baby needs a mother. Helplessness is a trait we quickly attempt to break in ourselves. Yet I love to look back on this time, to tell the stories of all the wild things to God and I did together.

But I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be in need of faith again. I don’t want to wonder about food, shelter, or employment. I don’t want to feel unsure about the safety and well-being of my family.

In my everyday life, more than I value faith, I value predictability. Faith requires me to be confident in the character of one person, God, but I would just rather be confident in the fact that my paycheck is deposited every other week. I want consistency and comfort, not miracles. Miracles, or the need for them, makes me uncomfortable. I would rather not.

The problem with faith is that it’s not like insurance, even if it feels that way. Faith isn’t something I deduct from my paycheck, blindly accruing over time. Faith is a muscle, and unless I work on building it, when I actually need it, I won’t have it.

I’m not comfortable with the implications of this, but it must be said. If I don’t develop my faith now, I won’t have it when I need it. wimp

So how do I build the muscle of faith in the off season?

First I have to get to know God. I have to know for sure that he likes me, loves me, and always has my best interests in mind. If I don’t know for sure that God is looking out for me because he likes me, and he’s leading me along his path for his reputation, then I’m going to freak out. And no one makes good decisions when they’re freaking out.

Second, I have to face conflict that requires my faith, instead of avoiding it. I can’t pretend or deny the tension I might have in relationships or in my life where there is a gap between who I am and I want to be. I have to have hard conversations and take care of real life, no matter how scary it is. Facing my fear in relationships and other areas of inadequacy requires faith because I can feel myself reach the end of me. And that’s where I need God. Faith develops when I’m nervous.

Third, the faith muscle is strengthened when I ask for things I don’t have, things I need or want. So often we make ourselves the only solution to the problem when God is ready and waiting to assist. He says we don’t have because we don’t ask. So when we put ourselves in the receiving position, humbling as it is, we are no longer responsible to be our own savior. We let him be our Dad who wants to give us good things, instead of panicking about how we, with our limited resources, will fix the problems ourselves.

So how do we develop our faith muscle? We need to get to know God, face our fears and conflicts with bravery, and ask for big things.

How are you being challenged to build your faith in your life right now? Share in the Comments below.

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