Fighting for Faith in the Land of the Living
My husband Ben often says that there are three kinds of people: those who are in a trial, those who just came out of a trial, and those who are about to head into one. If that sentiment is true, and I would be inclined to agree that it is, we would do well to consider how to fight for faith in the midst of hard times. I am convinced that Jesus is able to hold onto me with far more strength then I am able to hold onto him. And yet, Paul encourages us in the book of 1 Timothy to, “Fight the good fight of faith.” How can we, who are weak and in need of grace, fight the good fight? As I look back upon trials in my life I can clearly see three different means of grace the Lord gave to keep me fighting in those seasons.
Fighting through Wilderness by Glorifying
Do you think the Lord has forgotten you? Set your heart to glorify and enjoy Him. He will eventually lead you by a straight way to a lasting city.
Several years back we found ourselves trudging through a wilderness experience. We fought through the brambles and thorns of doubt and despair for over four years. We were seeking God, but it felt as if He had hidden his face from us. We wandered through desert wastes and found no way to a city to dwell in. We were lost. During our wilderness experience, even reading the Bible was difficult for me. The words on the page would blur together and little would stick . Enter a means of grace. We were going through the Westminster Catechism with our young children at the time and the only phrase that seemed to cling to me was Question Number 1. Q: What is the chief end of man? A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The phrase would echo in my mind—glorify and enjoy—every morning before my feet hit the bedroom floor. It became my singular purpose. The one heralding truth in the midst of deep uncertainty. Are you lost in a wilderness? Do you think the Lord has forgotten you? Set your heart to glorify and enjoy Him. He will eventually lead you by a straight way to a lasting city.
Fighting through Grief by Embracing
More recently, I have walked through a season of deep loss. It was not a loss of a person, which is even more devastating, but it was a loss nonetheless. I lost a sense of home; a feeling of belonging and especially the loss of a particular activity that I greatly loved with my children.
We lived in a beautiful neighborhood which connected to a whole community of bike paths. Nearly every night in the spring and summer, I would grab one or two of them and we would head off on the trails for a long bike ride. We gave certain paths and hills our own nicknames. “Can we do the Hill of Ahhh , Mom?” “No, let’s do the Hill of Wonder! ” It was our most cherished activity. Then the Lord called us to move. And I have spent over 3 years grieving the loss of those hills and the memories that still reside upon them.
Go ahead and weep. Feel the pain from it. But after a time of weeping, embrace what is right in front of you.
One day I stumbled upon a quote by John Piper and it felt as if someone finally grasped the complexities of my heart, “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” This one quote, a section of a longer two minute clip on grief, has been on constant replay in my mind. It has helped me to fight through the grief of losing what I so badly wanted to keep. Do you harbor deep pain in your heart over a life that you hoped would be? Go ahead and weep. Feel the pain from it. But after a time of weeping, embrace what is right in front of you. It is there by the hand of God. Trust Him.
Fighting through Fear by Believing
Ben and I prayed about adding to our family for a number of years. In our minds, we were contemplating a fourth child. But the Lord knew He would add a fourth and a fifth in one fell swoop! The news of a multiple pregnancy rocked me though. I didn’t think I could be patient enough to be the mother of five children, including two babies at once. I looked into the future and presumed we would experience a lot of financial stress. I was worried about the risks that come along in a pregnancy with multiples. I sunk into a low grade depression because I listened to all of those fears. I sat with this fear for several weeks. Then the Lord faithfully led me to Psalm 27:13, “I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be Strong. Take courage. Wait for the Lord.” The words leapt off the page before me. When will we see His goodness again? In the Land of the Living ! That is here. That is now. Is this a trite statement that everything will go fine and as planned? No. But will we have reason to say He is good. Yes! If we wait on Him, we will see it .
Are you struggling with fear? Does your lack of belief keep you from trusting Him? Then wait on the Lord. Let your heart take courage. You will see His goodness again in the land of the living. By the time our twins were born my heart was elated and ready for this very good gift the Lord had given us. I looked into their two sweet and perfectly tiny faces and I surely beheld the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
He is with us here and now in the land of the living and He will keep us.
Three different means of grace. A simple question and answer. A pastoral quote. And the living Word of God. Three ways that the Lord kept me and allowed me the grace to fight the good fight of faith through seasons of wilderness, grief, and fear. Keep walking weary travelers. He is with us here and now in the land of the living and He will keep us.
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