Faith in God enables men and women to make great choices — choices that can affect not only themselves, but all of history. Hebrews chapter 11 is filled with examples of faithful men and women who have gone before us. Here’s just a few:
‘By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family‘ (Heb. 11:7).
‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going‘ (Hebrews 11:8).
‘By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict‘ (Hebrews 11:23).
‘By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient‘ (Hebrews 11:31).
One important element to be noticed when reading about these great men and women is that their faith was accompanied, and ultimately strengthened, by difficulties. When we’re in the midst of a difficult time, reading and reflecting upon Hebrews chapter 11 will help us find encouragement and strength from those who’ve gone through tough times and did so faithfully.
Here are seven strategies that will help us gain the strength we need to persevere in faith:
- Honestly express our emotions to God.
We may be hesitant to talk with God about what we are really feeling, but God can handle it! 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’
- Fight the temptation to run from our distress.
When going through difficult times, we’re often confronted with the temptation to try to get back to ‘normal‘. We need to resist this temptation because it hinders our ability and resolve to faithfully face the issues at hand; and threatens to keep us from benefiting from the redemptive by-products that God brings about through life’s difficulties.
- Resist trying harder.
God may remove us from activity during this time to slow us down. Rushing back into a life of frantic activity is likely the opposite of what God wants us to do. Rest, solitude, and silence can allow us to hear His voice.
- Seek companions.
This is a good time to reach out to spiritually mature friends who are good and patient listeners and who will listen and provide the wisdom we need.
- Be faithful, but release our expectations.
We need to let go of our preconceived expectations regarding how God may or may not respond to us. This puts us in a posture of openness and receptivity to His leading.
- Be patient with ourselves and with God.
These periods can last for months or longer. The deeper changes at which God may be aiming take time. Pray for eyes to see the stronger future God is bringing about.
- Call to mind God’s faithfulness.
Recalling God’s provision and leading in the past can steady us during potentially disorienting times. Hold on to this truth: ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus‘ (Philippians 1:6)!