conviction of things unseen

3dee5387dc852bbf3125376d8b86848cOn Faith, prayer and uncertainties, by Hannah.

She is somewhere around two decades older than myself, and full of a vibrancy of life, energy, and contagious enthusiasm.  Somehow I knew she was a Christian before the word “Jesus” ever slipped out of her mouth, and although I don’t work with her directly, her approach toward everything she does is inspiring.  Even when she is busy, she doesn’t appear flustered- but rather calm and joyful.  I am certain that she has many reasons to be stressed, but yet she handles her stressors with grace and patience.  She is the sort of person that breathes in reality, and like a plant converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, she breathes out God’s hope.

She is the kind of person I want to be.

One afternoon, she saw that myself and my supervisor were feeling stressed and anxious.  She took us both by the hand, and led us on a short walk around the campus while speaking words of encouragement.  When we had calmed, she brought us back inside, and the sense of anxiousness that had characterized the work were doing previously had vanished.  Thoughts such as “what should I do?!” and, “how will I get this done?!”, could be replaced with, “just do your best, and He will take care of the rest”.  The problems we were working on had not become magically easier.  However, the way that we could approach the problems had changed.  We could bank on God’s promises that everything would be okay, even before we saw proof of it occurring.

We are sold the idea that faith looks like confidence and unshakeable promises, and it is true that God’s word can be trusted.  Yet often, faith looks more like approaching the same seemingly impossible problems, while feeling just as incompetent at solving them.. but knowing that God will make a way where there seems to be no way.  Faith, in this case, is believing without seeing.  It is being joyful because your heart is operating out of a place of trust, even when circumstances may appear the opposite.  It is still walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but fearing no evil even if you are surrounded by it.  This is what my friend showed me.

A phrase she told me recently is, “if you don’t ask, you won’t receive”.  The statement was directed at a situation at work, but it reminded me of the nature of faith – that even if we have the faith of a tiny mustard seed, we can move mountains.  So often we take verses like this figuratively, but I think it’s meant to be taken more literally than we think.  Her words also reminded me of what my Bible study group has been reading in the book of Mark, where it talks about how a man asked Jesus’s disciples to cast a demon out of his son.  They couldn’t do it, so the man begged Jesus to take the demon out, if he could.  I enjoyed Jesus response:

 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

– Mark 9:23, NLT

Jesus rebuked the people for being faithless- and likely, the rebuke was meant for his disciples as well.  Why couldn’t they cast the demon out of the man?  The answer comes in verses 28-29, where the disciples ask Jesus why they had not been able to do it.  He answered that it could only be cast out by prayer.  In other words, they did not receive God’s power to cast out a demon because they didn’t ask Him!  How often we make the same mistake!  Faith starts with asking.  Like my friend has been reminding me recently, if we don’t ask, we might not receive.  What have we got to lose by asking?

Faith and joy should be an inseparable characteristic of the Christian life, so that we can recognize it in each-other as I could in her.  For that to occur, however, we must hold control over our circumstances loosely.  If we want to see God do miraculous things in our life, we’ve got to give Him some room to work.  His power is not the kind to be easily quenched.

It is also true that faith includes an uncomfortable element of grasping onto the unknown, and learning to be okay with it.  This is something that is especially difficult for me, because I like to know what is going to happen.  Unknowns can cause insecurity.  For that reason, when we pray, we have to accept the possibility of failure, or of not getting what we hope for.  God can choose to fulfill our hopes, or to give us something completely different.  However, when we give up our sense of control and admit our disability to accomplish the impossible, then God’s strength can become really impressive.  It means fully admitting that yes, we are human and we are incomplete without God.  Yet, as my friend pointed out, “it’s worth it to try”.  It is worth it to ask God for His intervention on our behalf, and see what happens.

I still have many things to learn about faith, but I hope to take something from my friend’s example.  Namely, I want to better understand how to operate joyously in every circumstance, to ask God in prayer for the things that I need and desire, and to be comfortable with uncertainty -because God is certainty.

I may not ask God to move any mountains any time soon, but it’s very possible that He might just be more powerful (and willing) than I give Him credit.

To find out more about Hannah K., visit our writer’s page.

Art Credit: Pinterest

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