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  • Writer's pictureMichael Durham

A Faith problem

You would think that believing God should be a relatively easy lesson to learn since God has a track record of never playing someone false. He does not lie; He cannot lie. He is completely trustworthy. So, what’s the problem? Obviously, it isn’t with the Lord; the problem is me. There is something wrong with me that I can’t trust the most honest Person in the universe. 

Perhaps my problem is that I’m an untrustworthy person, and I’m judging the Lord based on my performance. We do that; we often judge other people’s motives by our own motives. I know I can’t always be trusted. I sometimes have ulterior motives, so why couldn’t God have a few? Maybe He is up to something other than my good because often “my good” hurts. I can’t handle too much of that kind of good. Yet, that seems to be the kind of good the Lord is often dishing out. 

Maybe my faith problem is an intellectual problem, meaning I just can’t figure God out. I mean He sometimes asks me to believe Him for things that don’t make sense to me. He requires strange things that appear unreasonable. He tells a 100-year-old man he’s going to have a son with his 90-year-old wife whose womb never worked when she was younger. And then once the miracle boy arrives a few years later, God tells the same dad to take his son and offer him as a human sacrifice on an altar. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t compute.

Perhaps my faith issues have stemmed from a problem I have with control. I like to have my hands on the helm of my ship if you know what I mean. I’m not so kosher with the idea of someone else doing the driving, especially if I don’t know where we are going. I want to sit down and plan my course. I want to Google map my trip and think of possible contingencies before heading in any direction. But it seems the Lord has this thing about taking me to places I’ve never been without consulting me or at least letting me see the map. 

Or could my faith problem be an odd mixture of all the above? And if so, wouldn’t that indicate that my real problem is a problem of my nature? I mean, it could very well be that my human nature is fallen and doesn’t like to trust anyone more than me. But don’t take my word for it. Remember, I’ve already confessed I’m not so honest. How about you? What’s your reason for faith in God being so difficult?

Our basic problem of distrust stems from our human nature. Our fallenness works against trusting someone else completely. We don’t mind trusting someone as long as we maintain some control, but our Heavenly Father requires absolute trust, which means no control on our part. 

But we are redeemed with new hearts that want to trust in Christ. The flesh is opposed to the spirit of faith in God. Therefore, our problem is part of us wants to trust God, and part of us wants to trust ourselves. How, then, can we have faith in God?

The answer to this all-important question is found in the Bible which says that to every Christian, God has given a “measure of faith.” Are we not told “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)? There is no other explanation for how a God-hating, sin-loving, self-centered, Christ-rejecting sinner can suddenly trust the One he has never trusted. It is a gift of God’s amazing grace. It is part and parcel of what it means to be born again. The old life was full of self-trust and void of God-trust, the new life created by God is the opposite. It is full of faith in Christ and empty of faith in self.

We can say that faith is a gift given to a person as much as we can say forgiveness is a gift. You did not manufacture your faith in God. You did not just, all by yourself, decide one day to cease your unbelief in God’s promises. Nor did you, apart from God’s grace, decide you could now trust the Lord. It is a part of the miracle we call the new birth.

Someone may ask, “Why then do I still find it, at times, hard to have faith in the Lord if God has given me faith?” Well, the answer may ring of simplicity, but it is, nonetheless, true. The answer is that although God grants faith, you and I must exercise it. God will not do our trusting for us. We are involved in the very act of faith. That’s why Jesus often scolded the disciples for their lack of faith. If He didn’t expect them to exercise their faith but God to do it for them, then Jesus would not have rebuked them. 

God gives us faith, but it is ours to use it or not. The measure of faith in Romans 12:3 that Paul says every believer has received is an ability to trust God and not the very act of faith. It must not be confused with the “gift of faith” listed in 1 Corinthians 12. I must act on this ability to trust. It is exactly here that the battle to believe is waged. The flesh will be opposed until we learn how to bring the flesh into submission to the Spirit. How this battle is to be engaged and won will be the subject of our next entry. Until then may the Lord help you to trust in you less and Him more.

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