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Crawling through sticky taffy.
The above phrase is how I would describe my recent struggles with faith. As of late, it had seemed that the entirety of my stillness before Him was like a spiritual fight. A struggle to be real with Him. A battle to set aside my own expectations and simply revel in His awesome, joyful presence. A bout against my sin-bent propensity to lean on works, instead of relying on the assurance of grace. A fight to take hold of the faith I profess, and to trust God at His word.
Have you ever felt that way? Like faith was a fight?
Why is this? Our fallen world, our sinful nature and the presence of the enemy will be faith-stretching realities--until the fullness of God’s glory appears at the day of Christ. It is so apparent that we are not home yet, and what a comfort that is! What I am learning more clearly day by day is that, the more deeply we desire the Lord—His presence, His Word, His Son’s likeness, His promises--the more brutally we will be opposed.
A reality to consider is the timelessness of the battle we endure. Consider David, who penned Psalm 13 during a fight for his own faith (I feel as though he took the words right out of my mouth):
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13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?...
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
What a comfort to know that even David, a shepherd boy chosen by God to lead a nation, fought for his relationship with the Lord! It is a war that Christ-followers have been waging since the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). Because the battle we fight is a present reality, we should prepare ourselves to stand firmly in the truth.
Rest assured, my sisters in Christ, you can put up a fight! The magnificent Lord enables you to do so through His power and authority, which has the final word over darkness and sin. Pastor Colin Smith says, “It’s possible to have faith and not use it…Faith does not work automatically. It has to be engaged.”
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How can we engage our faith in the fight?
David gives us three specific guidelines in Psalm 13 above for engaging in the battle at hand:
1. Trust in the Lord (v.5). All of God’s promises are true, wise and faithful. His love is steadfast. Therefore, we can trust that He will never leave us or forsake us (Psalm 9:10), that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), and that He will see our journey of holiness through to completion at the day of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Knowing and believing these promises means investing time in God’s living, breathing Word and asking Him for a deeper revelation of Himself through the Scriptures. When the battle comes, we can then take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) and recall to mind, by the Spirit’s help, everything we know to be true. It is ultimately the Lord’s power and authority which will cause us to stand firmly during the fight.
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2. Worship the Lord (v.5). It is especially powerful during fighting times (and at all times) to remind ourselves of the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done for us. Revel in Ephesians 1:7-10, which proclaims, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
How can we not worship the Lord knowing all of this? Our sins are forgiven. His grace is lavished on us. His will is made known to us. The gospel has the power to dispel the darkness!
3. Remember the Lord’s faithful works (v.6). David recalls that the Lord has “dealt bountifully” with him. How has the Lord been good to you? Make a list of all the ways you have seen God work in your life. Consider where you would be if not for salvation in Christ; that in itself is enough! Consider also how He has been conforming you into the image of His Son.
Also consider the daily blessings God provides, His marvelous creation, the fellowship of believing friends and family, and even the dark seasons and trying hardships from which He rescued you. Read of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, to Abraham, to Joseph and to Jesus Christ, whom He resurrected from death for our sake—what an amazing God!
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God is faithful, and that never changes—even when faith is a fight. “Faith is not some inner capacity that we develop. Faith draws its strength from the capacity of our Savior” (C. Smith). Let us stand firmly and proclaim, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love;my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Kristen Leigh Evensen is a writer, blogger and singer/songwriter. She writes on faith and identity at The Identity Project and keeps a column at WHOLE Magazine. Her desire is to see women transformed by the Gospel! Follow her on Twitter @kristenlevensen and on Facebook.