Seven Emotional Ways Your Faith Gets Tested

by Andy Wood on August 2, 2012

in Ability, Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Since You Asked

Callie has been seeking the Lord a lot lately.  That’s because not very many people are seeking Callie, and the loneliness hurts.  Badly.  Truth be told, Callie sometimes seeks the Lord to give Him a piece of her mind.  But she has developed the kind of relationship with God where that level of honesty is common.

Callie believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Stephen’s.

Stephen feels as though he’s two steps past the edge of the ledge, and “all” he has to stand on is the promises of God.  But Stephen wants more.  He wants some evidence – a little sight to go with his faith.  He’s willing to do anything for God, but he wants to know exactly what that “anything” is, and feels terribly insecure in the face of an unclear future.

Stephen believes.  But his faith is being tested, almost as much as John and Julie.

The Walkers have done everything they know to do to get help for their little boy Jefferson, who has a rare, always-fatal disease.  In spite of the experimental treatments, the sleepless nights of prayer and tears, and the proof-texts from scripture, Jefferson is only getting worse and will soon die.  Despair has set in, and John and Julie have no clue what faith is supposed to look like when they’ve lost all hope.

John and Julie believe.  But their faith is being tested, almost as much as Lana’s.

Just after she lost her dream-come-true job in a corporate move that left her shocked and speechless, both of Jana’s parents were killed in a highway accident.  In addition to the profound sense of loss, Jana’s main sources of identity and security are gone, and she’s left reeling.  She’s always tended to gush a bit about how faithful the Lord has been; now she has nothing left to gush about.

Lana believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Dena’s.

Dena can’t help but notice that the physical and emotional pain got worse after she started following hard after God and His will for her life.  “I thought it was supposed to get easier… better,” she said to no one in particular.  Dena is tired of hurting and tired of being afraid of hurting.

Dena believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Todd’s.

Everywhere he turns, Todd feels buffeted by peers, belittled by employers, and attacked for no reason by perfect strangers.  He once said out loud that it feels as though he has a target plastered on his backside with the words “KICK HERE” emblazoned on it.  Todd is tired of feeling rejected, and sometimes wonders if it would be easier if he weren’t taking his Christian life so seriously.

Todd believes.  But his faith is being tested, almost as much as Helen’s.

Helen is a servant to all who is anxious to please in any way she can.  She takes care of her aging parents and helps her daughter with her two preschool children.  She volunteers at the church, manages a small boutique, and avoids saying “no” to anyone for fear of disappointing them.  Helen says that God is the one who gives her the strength to do all she does.  But apparently God is running out of strength, because Helen just can’t take much more.

Helen believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as yours.  And more times than not, on the edge of test you’ll be facing down a feeling.

Tracing a Pattern

The seven emotional tests illustrated above – loneliness, insecurity, despair, grief, pain, rejection and overwhelm – have several things in common.  First, regardless of the circumstances or thoughts that help produce them, they threaten to crowd out the awareness of God’s present reality.  The feelings speak so loudly – often so rudely – that if we believed their report, there would be no room to believe the Lord was anywhere around.

Second, these emotional tests can distract us from seeking God diligently.  The temptation is to start seeking for relief instead.

Third, they all threaten to rob us of our sense of expectancy – at least the expectation that God will produce something rewarding in us.  He may bless other people, but not you.  He may reward somebody in heaven sometime.  But not here, now.

Fourth, each of these is linked to its own form of fear.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of more pain or rejection.  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss.  And when you choose to believe your fears you choose by default not to believe God.

Finding a Companion

Perhaps the most important thing these seven emotional tests have in common is that they are reflected in the lives of people who are known – not for their unbelief, but for their faith.  Their experience is described in Hebrews 11.

Noah encountered the profound loneliness of obeying God in a completely wicked and pagan world.  For 120 years he looked like a complete fool with no one but family to share the experience with.  But he believed God to the point that he said no to the loneliness and yes to Him.

Abraham left his homeland and faced the insecurity of having no idea where he was going.  He spent the rest of his life living in tents and wandering as a stranger in a land God said would one day belong to the multitude of his descendents.

Sarah and Abraham lived with the despair of knowing she could never have children, though time after time across a very long lifetime, they wanted to believe otherwise.  But they discovered in the testimony and faithfulness of God something they could hold onto that spoke life into their despair.

Abraham faced the extraordinary potential of grief in being asked to sacrifice his son.  It’s easy for us to read this story as hindsight.  Abraham lived it with no guarantees – just trust in the heart of the One who commanded him to walk it out.

Moses chose to endure the pain of identifying with his own people rather than the pleasure of sin for a season.  But that didn’t make the pain any less painful.  And it didn’t keep Moses from some pretty spectacular failure as a young man.

Moses endured the sting of rejection from all sides.  In fact, over his lifetime he was one of the most rejected men to ever live.  Yet he maintained his sense of meekness and trust in the heart of his creator.

Moses again faced his own feelings of being overwhelmed and led the children of Israel to do the same at the parting of the Red Sea.  There they had the choice of believing the feelings or believing God. They chose well.

Facing the Fear

When your faith is being tested and the feelings are screaming for relief, how do you hold on to the faithfulness of God?  Start by going back to the core truth of how faith works:

Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Start with the existence of God. Not in a general, abstract sense, but in the sense that you believe He exists in this situation.  In my pain, God is!  In my loneliness, God is!  In my grief, insecurity or rejection, God is.

Second, decide that in this situation, God will reward those who diligently seek Him – then seek Him as a higher good than seeking relief.

Third, confront the fear and its false beliefs.  Fear is a good protector, but a horrible arbiter of what’s true or real.  Anchor your confidence to the truth, regardless of the feelings. And in finding once again that God is, your faith will be more precious than gold.

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Yannic January 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I believe with all my heart that GOD brought me to this page because he saw what I was going through and knew that I felt my faith was being tested and was seeking His word for guidance. Hebrews 11 was a good reference for strengthening my faith when I read it. Thank you Father for leading me here and thank you and GOD bless to the author of the article.

Andy Wood January 17, 2014 at 1:27 am

Bless YOU, Yannic. Thanks for your encouragement. I pray you continue to hold on to the faithfulness of God.

Deanna November 25, 2015 at 11:19 pm

I believe I was led here to gain more wisdom. That even going though trials and tribulations god is there walking beside you. Always keep your eyes on god in good times and bad times. He will never leave us or forsake us. Amen I love you god today and always

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