What do we do when our faith is challenged?
1 Timothy 1:18-19 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.
Faith challenges come to all of us. There is no one exempt from the temptation to suffer shipwreck when we come up against a storm in life. We all encounter battles, are taken through warfare where our faith is challenged and we are presented with the opportunity to give up or stand up and fight. Paul told Timothy to wage the good warfare, according to the prophecies previously made concerning him. God gives us all promises that are personal prophecies for our lives, words that He speaks so clearly to our hearts and it is those promises that cause us to push forward to experience the good things that He has in store for us. But sometimes we run into major roadblocks and our faith is challenged.
A few years ago I experienced a major faith challenge and through it the Lord gave me a message entitled “Don’t allow the disappointments of Life to Shipwreck Your Faith.” These two verses in 1 Timothy were the ones that He spoke to my heart about the challenge that I was experiencing. Here is my story:
As a single person my heart’s desire was to have a godly mate; one that would walk through life with me as we served the Lord together. It was my desire to have a marriage that would glorify God and be an example to those around me of what marriage should be. So, I began seeking the Lord for His will in this situation and as I studied His word and prayed for His direction it became evident that God’s will was for me to experience this marriage, but that I would receive it by faith as I believed Him to provide just the right person as my mate. After several years of believing God for this godly mate He brought a special man into my life. Larry lived 90 miles from me in a large city. We began our courtship which soon blossomed into more than a friendship. It was at that time that I began seeking the Lord more diligently about closing the gap of the miles between us. I discerned His directions in moving to the City where I would live closer to Larry, so I prayed about obtaining a new job in order to move. He quickly provided the job that I needed, so I resigned my position with a tenure of over 10 years and excitedly pursued my new career. A temporary home was located and mine was put on the market for sale. Everything fell into place just as I had heard from the Lord in my prayer times. I had the green light from the Lord and was excited to be entering a new chapter in my life. I moved, started my new job and accepted Larry’s proposal for marriage. We were married shortly thereafter. My house sold and all my possessions were put in storage in anticipation of us buying a new home to start our life together. Little did I know the heartache, disappointment and challenge of my faith that awaited me.
Larry and I had been married for only 7 ½ weeks when he suffered a major stroke. He went home to be with the Lord the following day. I was devastated! My life came crashing down around me. My ship was battered and torn; my faith was challenged. How could this have happened, Lord? I followed Your directions; I prayed and sought Your will for my life. Why, Lord, why?
I suddenly found myself alone and lonely, in a large city, on a new job with no job security, in a church of 3,000 versus my little home church of 60; in a rental basement apartment where I had to face every day the thoughts of him having that stroke right there in our home; and with people around me that were new faces, new friends. My whole world had been turned upside down. Where was God in the midst of all this? Why had I prayed and sought His will for my life and then had it turn out like this? Questions and more questions arose in my heart day after day. The darkness closed in around me and I sensed a real battle going on for my soul. I knew that I had to stay focused on the Lord or the devil would take my life. Suicidal thoughts interrupted my sleep. My days were lonely as I waded through life without the one I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I went home to my bed at night and wished I could curl up in a ball with the covers over my head and go to sleep, never to awaken again. I remember standing in front of the casket at Larry’s funeral and wishing I could crawl up in it with him and go to that place where He had gone. The trips to his graveside were times of grief where I would cry and tell him I wished he was here.
Through all the devastation, God was right there with me. But the faith challenge was mine. I had to fight for my stand of faith. This was not an easy time, but it was a time of growth. I don’t know why it turned out that way. I don’t understand all that took place during that time, but I know that my God is faithful to bring us through the faith challenges that we experience. Even though I don’t have all the answers I can tell you that God’s word is true; that He still heals today and even though my husband wasn’t healed in this life, he is healed now. I know that not every faith challenge turns out the same and that if I were presented with the same type scenario today that it possibly would turn out different this time around. And I know that we go through faith challenges to help others as they are challenged and that is why you are reading this blog.
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
God revealed Himself to me through this difficult time. He gave me a message to pass on to others. It is that sometimes God uses the bad things in our lives as a springboard to the good that He has waiting for us. God always has a good plan for us. Look at the ones in the Word that experienced great heartache and how He used those times to catapult them into something great.
Mary, and the disciples were devastated when Jesus died on the cross. Their world came crashing down around them. The had just experienced the death of their best friend. They didn’t understand, but God had a better plan than what they had known as Jesus had walked among them. You see, if Jesus hadn’t died to pay for the sins of mankind, they and all of us would have been doomed to a life separated from God. The heartache that they had experienced was working for them a much greater joy; a much greater plan for a good life. They had to experience the heartache to know that the best was yet to come!
When Mary and the other ladies went to the tomb on that first day of the week to anoint Jesus’ body they found that their heartache may have lasted for a night, but joy comes in the morning! They heard the angels say to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:5,6) Their darkness had turned to light as they encountered the message of the Lord! They had hope again! When they were going through the faith challenge they couldn’t see the good that was ahead of them. When we are faced with difficult times we can’t see the good that God has planned for us until we are through with the challenge. It’s during the challenge that we must stand strong in the Lord and continue to believe and trust in Him.
Now, think about the Israelites that had been in bondage for 490 years when God sent a deliverer to bring them out of bondage and lead them into the land of Promise. After leaving Egypt they had to go through the wilderness. They often complained and thought about what they had left behind. And here they were wandering around in the wilderness, not understanding why they weren’t experiencing the blessings of God as He had promised. They had to go through the faith challenge to get to the good plan that He had made them. Between the land of bondage and the land of promise was the wilderness; the place of growth. They learned in the faith challenge how to fight for their freedom; how to overcome their enemies and how to depend on God to provide what they needed. They had a faith challenge before they reach their Promised Land!
What about Job? It is recorded in Job 1:1 that he was a righteous man, blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. He was successful; had a wife and ten children. His possessions were many and he was known as the greatest of all the people of the East. He had prestige, power and possessions and in a period of less than a year all of them were taken from him. The devil stole everything that he had except his wife and his life. Job went through a faith challenge! At times he was advised to curse God and die. His friends didn’t understand but always had an opinion of why he was going through the heartache and devastation. But Job’s strength to fight the faith challenge came from his relationship with his God. And in the end Job grew in his faith and his relationship with God. He said in Job 42:5:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.”
Job came to know God more fully during his faith challenge. And God blessed him when Job walked out of that challenge and prayed for his friends.
Job 42:10 And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
God took Job through the heartache and devastation and revealed Himself to him and then blessed him more abundantly than he was before he entered his faith challenge. He had good planned for Job even before he entered into his faith challenge because God is always good.
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it ore abundantly.”
In 2 Timothy 2:17, 18 we have the story of Hymenaeus and Philetus who are referenced in the 1 Timothy 1:18-19 passage that I quoted earlier. The scripture records in 2 Timothy 2:18 that they “strayed concerning the truth” when they went through their faith challenge.
Roadblocks happen in all of our lives. You see, we can either grow bitter or better when we go through difficulties. We can either give up on God, or continue to believe that God knows all things, has a good plan for our lives and will reveal it to us and bring it into manifestation as we continue to believe and trust Him. We can either continue with what we know that’s right, that’s faith-filled living or we can “stray” concerning the truth! The choice is ours. The challenge is ours. The outcome is determined by the choice that we make concerning the challenge that is placed before us.
In my case, God brought me through the faith challenge and used it to be a springboard to catapult me into the good plan that he had for my life. It wasn’t very long after I experienced the loss of my husband that God brought another special man into my life. His name is Gerald. Again, I had been seeking God’s will regarding a godly mate because God’s plan for my life was marriage; and that hadn’t changed. He once again made it very clear to me that He had that mate for me. I didn’t want to go through the heartache and disappointment again and had almost given up hope, but God dealt with me about believing in Him; trusting Him to put this together again. And now I am living out the good plan that God had for my life as Gerald and live and love each other, and serve the Lord together! Gerald is everything that I could have wanted in a husband. He is loving and kind, compassionate and caring. He is the fulfillment of the good plan that God wanted me to have. But it is only as God brought me through the heartache and disappointment that I could experience the good that He had waiting for me with Gerald.
You may feel, as I did, that you have experienced a major setback. But just know, that with every setback God has a comeback planned for you! He will bring you out of that difficult time to bring you into the good plan that He has for your life. You can either choose to allow the difficulty to shipwreck your faith and become bitter towards God or you can choose to continue to stand in faith believing in Him and trusting that He knows how to deliver you from temptation and bring you into your Promised Land.
Father, I thank You for all things, even the difficult times in my life. You have always been there to see me through every heartache and disappointment. Thank You, Father, for bringing me out of the darkness into Your glorious light and the good plan that you have for my life. Father, I pray for my friends this morning who may be experiencing a faith challenge. Only You, Lord, know what they are truly going through. Father, I ask You to reveal Yourself to them through this difficult time and give them a glimpse of the good that You have awaiting them after they come out of their faith challenge. Father, I ask You to give them strength to endure to the end; a vision that is God-given and a determination to defeat the enemy and be the person that You have created and called them to be. Father, give them Your strength, Lord; Your vision and Your presence. Thank You, Father. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.