Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4: 12, New King James Version

Faith seemed so much simpler as a child. I remember sitting in a Sunday school classroom gazing at a felt board, as our teacher explained that faith in God was like a shield that prevented the fiery darts of the enemy from hitting us.

A few years later, I memorized Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The verse, in the poetic diction of the King James Bible, did little to explain the importance of faith in my life, much less define it. So, armed with a verse and a felt-board faith, I entered my teen-age years with no better understanding of what faith is.

I wasn’t alone in this struggle then, and I’m certainly not alone in this struggle now. Believers and nonbelievers alike often substitute “faith” for denomination or religion, asking people to what faith they belong, in the same way one asks to what political party one belongs. Others use faith as a synonym for hope, and say they “have faith” things will work out in their favor.

I think of faith as something you need to persevere when the path on which God has placed us becomes difficult. The New Living Translation does an excellent job of explaining Heb. 11:1 in these terms: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Faith, then, is a process. You have to trust that the outcome will be better than if you hadn’t included God while in the midst of your uncertainty. And here’s the truly difficult thing about faith: you have to trust God completely, in every circumstance.

You can’t have faith in God for one area of your life, and make your own plan in another area because you are hedging your bets. You can’t heed God’s voice in certain areas of your life but refuse His counsel and direction in other areas. That’s not the way faith works.

Here’s the good news: Jesus prayed that Simon Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail  in the face of adversity from Satan. And the encouraging thing is that Jesus prayed for you and me, those who would come after the Disciples, that we would be kept safe from Satan. Jesus assured that complete trust in Him is possible. He gives us “the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)

So, be confident that your faith isn’t an abstract concept, but the God of eternity interceding on your behalf.

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