I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief. These are words I say to God every day. Words taken from Scripture (Mark 9:24). I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was in the 7th grade. After studying and making the choice, I asked my dad to baptize me in our swimming pool. That very day I was saved, but it took me 20 years to make Him my Lord and Savior.
What's the difference?
By submitting myself under His Lordship, I have been given a gift — a gift to trust Him to guide me where He wants me to go. For much of my late teenage life and early adulthood, I trusted no one. I was trying to check out of my life mentally and emotionally by using drugs and alcohol. I was searching for love in places where there is only darkness. God saw me through that time and called me to Him. Gratefully, I felt I had no other options left ... so I followed.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I had been living a Christian life, working in a church, and doing all the "right" things. But, I was still not submitting all that I am to Him. How do I know that? Because I allowed worry, anxiety, and need for control to be my lord. I thought that was normal, because it was everywhere I turned. Many people (not all) were worried themselves, worried about money and the lack of it, worried about health, worried about their kids, worried about their jobs, and worried about ... I fit right in.
I was confronted with a real choice. Did I really believe that God was in the details of my life? Or, did I just believe that He was to be worshiped on Sunday and then real life happened after that?
When I began in depth bible study a number of years ago, my eyes opened a little to this lack of faith I was struggling with. I longed, and still long, for the faith of a champion of God. Along the way, however, God led me to an exciting discovery.
The Bible has a faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11). These are people who had the kind of faith to be recognized by God as special. Yet as I looked closer at them, I found that many struggled to gain that faith through difficult circumstances. In fact, their faith was grown through those circumstances and struggles.
God uses broken people — people like you and me. In fact, that is when God's strength can often best be seen. Last week in Bible study, I was touched by a quote: "God is drawn to weakness." Thanks be to God for that, because I am weak. Yet God calls me to grow stronger in Him each day, to move from milk to meat, to move from a faith that is easily shaken to a faith that has been tested and can weather a storm that might have toppled it just last week. Faith through circumstances, struggles, and storms can lead me to growth!
Our faith is refined by fire; the more fires we walk through the stronger our faith grows. Fire burns, but what it burns away is our pride, greed, and selfishness; and what it leaves is a humbled servant of God ready to say, "Here I am Lord, I will go where you lead." To be content in our circumstances and trust God that we are part of His great plan are gifts that brings tears to my eyes. Thanks be to God.
The gift of trust, this genuine faith I'm talking about, is one of the greatest earthly gifts we could ever receive. I don't want to waste this gift any longer. I think it is one of the traits that shine the light of Jesus through Christians.
So how does one get this faith?
God grows faith, we just need to seek Him with all of our heart and He will increase it.
So how do I seek Him?
I seek Him through prayer, Bible study, and reciting Scripture ... I take Scriptures that stand against whatever I am struggling with and I quote those Scriptures throughout the day. I keep them with me. I say them over and over. I keep putting the words of God into my head and into my heart. I believe this is a crucial exercise.
Jesus tells the story about a man who cleans out his house of the one demon that is living there, but he leaves his house clean, yet empty. So the demon comes back and brings his evil friends who take up residence in the house. The end of the situation of the house is worse than it was at the first of it (Matthew 12:43-45).
The point for me is simple. I can push out the fear, worry or anxiety, but if I am not re-wallpapering my mind with the promises and faithfulness of God, then the fear and worry come back fourfold — debilitatingly more powerful. So I seek God through prayer, Bible study, and repeating Scriptures.
Does my life always look like I want it to?
Are there hardships?
Absolutely! Yet these hardships are the times where "the rubber meets the road." I can either shine for Jesus or wither like a lilly in a drought. So I call on God in the hardships. And, if I am willing to seek Him, He gives me peace and shows me the way He wants me to go. It's then that I realize, through it all — the hardships, struggles, and even weaknesses — He has answered my prayer. God has grown my faith. And so I pray it again, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."
Tammy is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.
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