2019 was a year of surprises for me. And if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that our God is the best at surprises.
I began the year by selecting Faith as my word/focus for 2019. I felt God whispering to me, “Almost. Just keep going.” Faith was what I needed this year, and faith is what grew stronger.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1, NIV
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. – Romans 4:20, NLT
These verses helped me focus in on the faith God wanted to grow in me. Confidence in what God was doing. Did I have that? A faith that never wavered? Could that be said of me?
I already knew this truth: that in order for faith to grow, it must be exercised or tested. Just like our muscles, which do not get stronger unless they are pushed to their limits, our faith must also be pushed and stretched.
I learned another truth this year: faith can grow in spite of our doubts.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s go back to the weight-lifting example. Picture a man about to lift a huge bar filled with weights on the bench press. (For those unfamiliar, the bench press is where you lay on your back and push the weights up and down, right about your chest.) He is already bulging with muscles, and yet, the weight he is attempting to bench press is super heavy, even for him. He needs a spotter in fact, to try to lift it safely. He gets one rep in, maybe two, but on the third, his muscles begin to fail. The spotter must step in, grab the bar, and help the man push it to the top, setting it back securely at the top.
The man still built muscles even though he needed the help of his spotter. It is the process, lifting, failing and needing help, that got him to his super-strong status.
You see, we can have doubts in our faith, but we can never stop. It is in our doubts that we must turn to God, our spotter, and ask for encouragement, comfort, direction and wisdom. This is how we grow our faith.
And our God is faithful; He never disappoints. “As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame,'” (Romans 10:11, NIV). When we ask for help and for wisdom, God answers. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking,” (James 1:5, NLT).
Our faith grows when we turn to the Source of our Faith. (Hebrews 12:2). He is big enough to quiet our doubts. He is not intimidated when we come to Him with questions.
And our God surely loves surprises.
For at those moments when I doubted His promises to me, He showed up in ways I had never concocted in my head.
He showed up in…songs on the radio.
He showed up in…Instagram posts.
He showed up in…a friend’s generous gift.
He showed up in…an text sent in obedience to God.
You see, friends, when we step out in faith, in spite of our doubts and questions, God steps up. When we allow Him to work, His perfect plan shines through. His surprises and blessings shine through, and we can grow in our faith. We can grow and not waver, like Abraham, and we can bring God glory.
2019. A year of faith. A year of surprises.