By Alyssa Chan
Hebrews 11:7-12 in the Message Version reads:
7 By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
8-10 By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
11 By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.
Do Not Overthink Faith
What does the dictionary says about faith? It is a noun that means confidence or trust in a person or thing. It is a belief that is not based in proof like a belief in God or in doctrines and teachings of a religion. The remarkable thing is that we sometimes overcomplicate when we think about faith. The reality is that, in our world, we are surrounded by daily decisions that we take by faith. Let us look at our daily lives. We go to work, school, or somewhere else by car, bus, train, or some type of public transport. But have you ever thought how does a car work? I was thinking that one day, so I went online on howstuffworks.com. A car contains dozens of different technologies; everything from the engine to the tires has its own special universal design engineering. There are 20 different topics about how different parts of a car works.
Most of us just get into a car without knowing all that. For me, I usually think that, as long as I check my tires’ pressure and take it to service once a year, I will get from A to B. I do not need to know all the exact mechanics of how a car works or become an export on cars to feel able to drive a car. You do not have to know everything about something. There is nothing wrong with understanding how something works, yet we do not have to overcomplicate our life and our faith in God. Faith is a simple act of believing. Sometimes we just have to believe and not overthink it.
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd” (Heb. 11:1-2; MSG). Let us start with the basics. Having a basic understanding is a good start. We need to have a simple faith in who is Jesus and in His promises for us. We may not understand all now, but we must start by having good basis and understand that well.
Matthew 17:20 says: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”. All that is required is a mustard seed. It does not make sense, right? Do you know the mustard seed? It is the tiniest of the seeds. The only thing we need to start is a bit of faith like a mustard seed, a faith in the basics. Hebrews 11:6 says that “it’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him”.
Matthew 19:1-2, one of my favourite verses, says: “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven’”. It says that Jesus saw their faith. Everything we need to strive forward is faith in Jesus too. So let us not overcomplicate ourselves.
Faith Grows One Step at a Time
Faith has been likened to fitness because faith acts like a muscle. There is an amazing machine in the gym that measures your muscle mass and body fat. If you do not lift weights for a week, your muscle mass drops. It is easy to lose muscles. With muscles, you need to use it or you lose it. Faith works similarly; we need to use it to grow in faith. You have to keep challenging yourself and believing that God will keep doing miraculous things. Life is a rollercoaster with high and lows, and in every season, we need to keep trusting and exercising our faith, believing that God is always faithful. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We do not know the future. We do not know how our lives will be in the future. There might be joys and sorrows, but we will get through all those things with faith. Thus, we need to exercise our faith both in the good and bad times.
Arthur Ashe was a Grand Slam tennis player in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he was believed to contract HIV from a blood transmission from a bypass surgery. He is most famously quoted the following. “If I were to say, ‘God, why me?’ about the bad things, then I should have said, ‘God, why me?’ about the good things that happened in my life”. Let us take it all, both good and bad, put in practice our faith.
It is said that it takes twenty one days to change a habit although other people believe it takes longer or shorter. I want to give you a challenge for the next seven days. Let us think how we can flex our faith regardless of our stage in faith and our current situation. Let us believe in God for something more outrageous and share with each other next Sunday. We may all have in mind those big moments in our lives when we know God has come to us and speak to us. But let us not look at the past but at how God is working in our lives now. Let us keep growing our faith and building our understanding of faith. Let us keep growing and learning.
But the testimonies of our faith are not just for us. There are for us to share with each other. John Donne nailed it when he said, “No man is an island”. We do not live by ourselves; we are a community. Let us then encourage each other with what is happening in our lives and how our faith is growing. For me, I was encouraged by John 11:41-42 when Jesus raised Lazarus from the death. “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me’”. Jesus said that He knew His Father always heard Him, but He said it aloud for the sake of the people around there. Some of you may be strong in faith. Like Jesus, you need to share your faith and testimonies so that others may be stirred in faith and encouraged to believe. We need to start sharing our journeys with others and encourage each other.
At the end of last year, I had a tough time as I had been working in the same position for a year when I had made a verbal agreement with my boss to work for three months and achieve certain goals. Every two weeks we would meet, but he always told me that we would discuss about it the next time. I was really disappointed and felt that there was no way to go. I had done all my part, but we only had a verbal agreement. I heard about a position in another company so I prepared and applied for the job. Unfortunately, I did not get it. I felt as if every door has shut. I felt trapped in the job I had. I prayed and decided to believe that God had a way for me because He specializes in the impossible. Someone spoke to a person about me for a job position, and within a week, I was hired. I even did not have a job interview. This job is such a blessing. I actually did not want to take this job, but now I realize that I am more suited for this position than for the one I had applied for. God specialized in the impossible because He wants to trust in Him, believing that He is beyond our understanding and our current circumstances. We think that there is a way we have to see, but He says, “Trust in Me because there is something bigger”.
Let us encourage one another and remember that God is a good God who specializes in the impossible. Whatever situation you are going through, believe that God is able. Even though you can see a way, there is a way God has in store for you. Let us remember to help each other to grow in our understanding and in our faith. Let us not lose heart, but remember that faith is like a mustard seed that grows little by little and like a muscle that needs to be used. “[…] God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Rom. 4:17) Let us also call into being things that were not and believe that God is able to bring us through.