Hard times come and go, but a strong Faith will see you through anything.
One of the most popular inspirational scriptures talks about faith. It says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Blizzards of bad news blast us from every type of media these days, challenging our faith in ways we have never seen before. Sickness and hard times and wars and rumors of wars have left many exhausted if not destitute in its sweep across the country. Getting help from the government or social services is a long drawn out process that turns more and more people away empty-handed. Lots of people are returning to or finally turning to the Church for comfort and direction. “Where is God in all the stuff that’s going on?” one might ask. How can God let this happen? Will my faith be strong enough to see us through this crisis? Will the Church help me? Why won’t the Church help me? The questions go on and on. People are looking for reassurance and renewal, hope and something to hope for. Faith is being asked to make leaps and bounds between those things hoped for and those not seen. Can it be done? Sure it can! Hard times are often when faith shines through the strongest. Here are some suggestions to help your wavering faith stay strong no matter what’s going on around you. Begin with F-A-I-T-H: Focus, Action, Inspiration, Trust, and Hope.
1. Focus. It is easier to deal with any situation in life by first admitting the reality of the conditions but not getting stuck there. Go ahead – take a good look around. Acknowledge where you are in life right now. Are things good? Not so good? Awful? Getting better? While you are dealing with challenges, find something to help you keep your focus on a level higher than the problem. No problem can be solved on its own level. We have to rise up in our thinking and in our attitudes in order to solve our problems. Allow yourself a time of mourning if you need it, but then get up, shake the dust off your shoes, and start moving to a higher place. Find a focal point, such as a particular goal, and keep that before you at all times. Collect scriptures and quotations and stories of success to help you stay focused in the direction you want to go. Keep the end result in mind and use it as your motivator.
2. Action. There is truth in the saying that faith without works is dead (“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17 KJV). This means you must follow up with action – the physical act of doing something about your situation. You cannot just sit and expect God or anyone else to rescue you. Even if that were the case, you would have to rise up, stand up, reach up and accept the help. Once you have identified a goal (Step 1), then you put into action your plan of accomplishment. Make a list of steps to take. What are the pros and cons? Do you need to take a class or get special certification? Can you call someone to get an application? Do you need to diet or gather old clothes or sell your car? What actual action steps can you take towards your goal now, towards the resolution of your situation? Think about it – there is at least one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to put your faith into Action!
3. Inspiration. What inspires you? What wakes your interest when you hear the word or concept discussed? What makes you want to stand up and be heard? What soothes your heart, your soul, your troubled mind? Think about it. There is something that inspires everyone. For some, it’s reading the Bible or spiritual/self-help books; for others, it may be listening to music or working on a hobby. There is something that hooks your attention and won’t let go, something that leaves you feeling better than before you heard/did/saw it. Commit to allowing yourself to have inspiration every day. Our days are not so filled that we can’t take a moment for ourselves and let inspiration filter in (if you can make time for all that other stuff, you can make time for yourself – even if it’s just five minutes while you’re in the restroom, or sitting in your car before you go in the house at night). Listen to inspirational music or talking books in your car every time you drive somewhere; share the experience with close friends or family to make connections that bring you closer. Keeping inspiration close at hand will give you the strength you need to stay true to your goals and take the action needed to bring them to pass.
4. Trust. Without trust, you have no faith or inspiration. Trust is a sort of faith in itself because when you trust a process you don’t worry about it. You trust your spouse or partner to be there for you; you trust your child’s teacher is giving him/her the best education possible. You trust that the sun will shine tomorrow. Trust is a form of releasing faith so that it can do what it needs to do without your interruption. If you don’t trust a person or situation, you need to evaluate why. If you have just reason not to trust, then you should consider changing the relationship or situation so that it becomes safer for you (if you don’t trust someone, are you safe with them?). A trusting faith means you depend on the Truth of God’s action in your life, you are agreeing to follow through with the things that you can do (there is always something that you CAN do in any situation, even if it’s just to sit and pray or comfort a friend). Trust means releasing fear and worry. If you are consumed with either of those emotions, your faith will have a hard time being expressed. Stop. Breathe. Relax. Release. Let Go. Do what you know how to do and leave the rest to God or the Universe (this does not mean you leave yourself open to being a victim or being hurt).
5. Hope. In every act of faith there is a gift of hope. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps you moving toward it. Hope is the promise inside of you, deep in your heart, perhaps hidden under your fears and doubts, but it’s there, waiting to be expressed. Keeping your hopes alive is what gives your faith the power to keep going. If you identify your goals, establish action steps, stay inspired, and practice trust, your hopes will be realized, for they are closely linked to the divine desires in your heart to experience the good that God has created. No matter what the struggle, keep hope and faith alive your heart – know that things will get better. This too shall pass. Tell yourself this over and over as much as you need to until you finally get it. Nothing stays the same forever. Bad days will roll into good days, and bad times will pass away as surely as the fog after the storm. The sun is always shining, up there, just above the clouds, so don’t let their grayness pull you down. Use those dark days to get stronger so you will be able to meet every challenge head-on. Take advantage of every opportunity! Be open and receptive! Be the one to defy the odds – refuse to surrender to the slander of the media when it reports doom and gloom. You can use your faith to move mountains, but first you have to get up and stop complaining about the way things have been. Be someone who makes a difference and creates a better story to be told – a story of survival and faith, of hope and success. Let your story be the one that inspires your neighbor and helps others take action. Let your story be a testament to your Faith.