Nothing Withheld ~ How to have faith when you feel like giving up on everything ~
Romans 8:32 (ESV): He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Have you heard that old saying that some in distress cry out? The one that goes something along the lines of, “God forgot me and won’t give me anything - He left me out to dry and figure this all out on my own….” Never has there been such a bigger misunderstanding of God and the Word!
Today, I’d like to write something more on a personal line with my ministry to others. I don’t want you to think of “The Jesus Movement” as just some character in your life that you think of time to time when you get on Facebook - I want to get more personal with you, so that you understand that I, the writer, am human too and just a man, and understand things on that level.
I have challenges too and I am not perfect, no matter how much I write and quote the Word. I strive in all of my works to give you real and actual answers to questions and concerns and how to apply the Word to your life in a literal sense - not just quote what we should do and let you figure it out, and not just make you feel good about the Word, but actually learn it.
I feel that some don’t go this deep enough - perhaps they are scared to offend their large following, or maybe just prefer to ride the baselines. My promise to you is to always ride the line that the Lord leads me to, and for me and the last few years, that has been to not be scared to write or talk about anything, and to give people real, actual answers and methods to apply the Word to their life. What good is it if I would just quote the Word and talk in roundabout sentences but don’t actually tell you how to do it?
I will discuss a topic that many struggle with, and I did myself in the past before I knew the Lord - this is about having faith when all hope seems lost.
Having Faith through the Tough Times
So, life has hit you hard, in some way, shape, or fashion. It may be current struggles, or it may be your past struggles that still linger in the depths of your mind from time to time, even though they are hardly materialized anymore, or maybe they are and that’s part of your struggle and why you feel the way you do.
Maybe you lost a loved one, or you lost your job unexpectedly. Maybe you are having relationship or marital problems. Maybe you feel like no matter how much you work, your bills still seem to be more than what you make. Maybe you can’t get your children or spouse to see Jesus the way you do and go to church with you. Maybe you are sick, and in and out the hospital, or out of shape, and no matter how much you pray to God, you don’t get the answers you seek and just can’t seem to get on track.
You may wonder to yourself, “How do I find faith that my situation will change?”, or “How much do I have to pray and have faith in God, who is all powerful to do all things, while my situation just doesn’t get better and He doesn’t fix it for me yet?”
Let’s get one thing straight - God did not leave you and He certainly did not forsake you just because you are going through this tough time. It is impossible for us to see the world the way God does, knowing the beginning and the end all at once, but one thing is for sure - God will not forsake you. If you are living your life according to the commands of the Word and what Jesus asks of us, you will see this struggle through and find peace.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV): It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
For starters, ask yourself some basic questions about the current state of your faith: Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you ever read your Bible from front to back, and began to study it as a student of the Word? Have you researched your specific problem(s) in the Bible for answers? Are you living as best as you truly can according to the commands of Jesus?
There is a great recount in the Word about a man who may have faced what you are going through today.
His name is Job, and he went through some horrible things, much worse than any of us could imagine, and might even make some of you reading this reassess your situation (take heed, I do not know this for sure - someone reading this could possibly be very bad off and worse than what I am about to share about Job, but nonetheless you can find answers here still):
1- He once lost ALL of his wealthy possessions:
Job 1:16 (KJV): While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
2- All 10 of his children were killed at once(!):
Job 1:18-19 (KJV): While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
3- He became extremely sick with an illness directly from the devil himself, Satan:
Job 2:7 (KJV): So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
In one short, fell swoop of fate, Job lost everything that was important to him - his money, his kids, and his health. If you have not already, after you finish this article, but preferably before, I highly recommend you read the Book of Job. This will provide a complete and clear understanding of what I am about to share with you.
Considering Job, let’s examine 3 core items that I feel will be very helpful with having faith through tough times.
1 - Be realistic about where you are now in your life
Look - it is OK to express emotion. It’s how we were built. God, our Father and Creator, made us this way to be loving and emotional beings. When we read through Job, you can see that he experienced some very real and raw emotions that we all feel time to time when facing challenges.
He lost hope in almost all things and seemingly considered ending his life, or at least the value of it as a whole. As many of us do time to time, he just gave up and felt like his situation would never change no matter what he did:
Job 6:11-13 (KJV): What is my strength, that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass? Is not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?
Job also experienced extreme loneliness along with this hopelessness, another thing we all face from time to time. He felt like his supporting cast was gone, and no one was left alive to help him, even though he still had his wife, siblings, relatives, close friends, good people around him, and maids. Even will all these good people around him, he felt hopelessly lost and lonely. Have you ever felt this way? Even with a thousand Facebook friends and family members that you could reach out to for help and encouragement, you still feel lost. Take a look:
Job 19:13-17 (ESV): He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me. The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger; I have become a foreigner in their eyes. I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy. My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
And get this - Job even got mad at God!
Job 23:1-9 (ESV): Then Job answered and said: “Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.”
Job was basically giving up on God, wondering where He was at to help him. We all likely have felt this at some point in our life, usually before we were saved and knew the Lord, or maybe even sometimes after.
Job certainly was not afraid to express himself. He didn’t tip-toe around anything that he felt about his life or about God. He completely understood that what he was going through was real, and even by expressing anger towards God, he showed that he knew God could do it and was enough to heal him - he was just tired of waiting and couldn’t see the end of his problems anywhere “on the horizon”.
So, step one is being real with yourself and your feelings about all of these things going on in your life, and understanding one thing - God can handle it, and in fact, He already has taken care of it.
2 - Remember what God has done for you in the past
Our next step is to NEVER forget what God has done for us in the past, and all the good things we have today because of Him and His power over our life. Never forget that prayer He answered for you during another time when things seemed hopeless. It is easy to forget our past struggles, and our past prayers, and how much God has already helped us when we are faced with something new and challenging.
I look back and remember where I was before I was saved, during the hardest part of my life mentally and career wise. I felt stuck in my career, thinking that I’d be in Restaurant and Bar Management forever. I’d replay past decisions I made. I’d wonder if I should have gone to college longer and got a Masters in something. I’d wonder if I made a mistake getting into the Restaurant industry and management. All my bills were paid, but I’d constantly think about money and how we could make moves to make more, but could never quite get where I wanted. I had struggles too financially, like many do, even with a good position in management, and expensive unexpected costs would come around. I’d beat myself up over my own perceived short-comings in my young life to that point. I am extremely thankful to have my wonderful wife and life partner along the way these last 8 years. She is always happy and encouraging me, and brought me more peace in my mind during some of my darkest days mentally than I think she will ever know, even though I have told her.
I also remember the moment I gave my life to the Lord. I sat early in the morning on my living room floor in our old house and grabbed my Bible she bought me a couple years prior, thinking to myself, “God, you’re all I got left. I don’t know what I am supposed to do, I feel like I have no vision, and my wheels are just spinning sometimes, but I know the solution starts with you. So I’m going to start going to church, read your Word front to back, and start trying to apply every command from Jesus to my life, one decision at a time, one day at a time.”
I even remember praying for the new car I have now, the home I have now, the new job I have now, and the overall success in my life and improvements.
Over the next couple of years, everything in my life began to change. After I gave my life to the Lord, and began cleaning up bad habits according to the Word, big changes happened and prayers were answered. I finally knew what it was like to feel that expression “BAM!” that Christians use often when a prayer is suddenly answered out of nowhere. New doors opened in my life, and old ones closed, and opportunities came my way.
I look back and understand completely why God allowed me to go through that everything I did. Everything I went through, the good, the bad and the ugly, ALL prepared me for the amazing blessings I live in now.
He had to grab me and make me realize my faith in Him was weak and needed to be stronger. I needed to experience true faith - the kind where you hit a challenge and have exhausted all of your options and God is the ONLY card you have left to play. And even after I was saved, everything was MUCH better and I could see where things were going and believed it, I STILL had moments of stress and anger and unexpected difficulty, but this time around, I prayed and had a strong faith because I KNEW if I was patient and prayed and did the correct things according to the Word, God would take care of it.
This even prepared me for where I am now - running The Jesus Movement, my online ministry to others, so that I could talk to people and give real answers from the Word and real examples of how I dealt with situations with a strong faith in God.
This is another reason why I always try to suggest to people to become students of the Word, and be wary of the type of ministry you receive. I encourage people to view different Christian ministries, and have a sound knowledge of the Word so that you can recognize if what you are watching and partaking in is actually sound doctrine. Through reading and studying the Bible, I found that so many people go through struggles that were WAY worse than mine and what I perceived as “the end of all ends” in my head when things would go wrong. As I studied the Word, I started thinking to myself, “Why should I receive a pass from all suffering when all of these biblical heavyweights like Job and Moses and more had to endure so much?”
So, back to my point - never forget where God pulled you out of and what He has already done for you. I hope sharing something personal like this helps you understand that you are not alone!
1 Peter 5:9 (KJV): Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
I learned a lot about true faith over the last few years, and I felt really silly and very small for not coming to God sooner in my life. I learned that things are done in God’s timing for very specific reasons that we just can’t always understand until after things come to pass. I looked back on my entire life from a totally different perspective and realized how much God was always there for me, even though I wasn’t there for Him. I realized that He is a good, good Father!
3 - Remember that God is Sovereign Over All Things and in Complete Control
Going back to the Book of Job, one sure thing it teaches us is that no matter how bad things may seem in our situation, God is in total control and is completely sovereign over all things in the universe.
In the first chapter, He allows Satan to attack Job, and at the end, He restores Job’s family and wealth. It is abundantly clear that God is in complete control even though Job didn’t always realize it. Even in his darkest times of complaining about his situation and even being angry with God, he knew that God was the only one who could fix what was wrong for him.
Job 23:10 (KJV): But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Further on, in Job 38, God asks a series of questions that He knows Job can have no answer for, and this ultimately reaffirms his faith in God as sovereign over all things.
Job 38:4 (KJV): Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
God wanted Job to realize that his finite perception over his surroundings could not even begin to measure up and understand God’s overall plan for humanity, and more specifically, His plan for Job’s life.
If God is big enough to have created the world then He is big enough to control it. Seemingly negative things will happen, but don’t assume that God is not in control anymore.
If you are a Christian and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are saved because God allowed His own Son, Jesus, to be crucified for our sins. As negative as that event at Calvary may have seemed, God’s plan clearly demonstrated that He is still in control of history and the world.
I don’t know exactly what you are facing today, but stay strong. You may cry tonight, but joy will come in the morning. This is a trial and a season you are going through. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, put your faith in Him, and study the sound doctrine of the Word of God. You might not be able to see all the moving parts of God’s plan, but trust that it will be done and you are already taken care of.
Whatever you are going through that is a struggle, attack it Biblically. Read the Bible from front to back. Search it for examples of your problem and see how it all worked out for those in the Bible who went through something similar, and how it stacks up to all things when considering that we can't see all things like God does. Affirm Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and start living by His commands, even if it starts with one decision at a time, one day at a time. He is a Way Maker, and He has not forgotten about you!