It’s been over seven months since I wrote Sowing in Tears and not a lot has changed. In this stage of our journey, it feels like we have not only sown in tears (Psalm 126:5), but we have sacrificed everything to water and fertilize these seeds. Still, we have not seen even the beginning of a sprout.
About a month ago, my husband was miraculously given a job. After months and months of trying to find work, this opportunity practically fell in his lap. It was such a huge provision and we were so grateful.
Then, two weeks ago, he injured himself and has been unable to work. Just as things were looking promising to us, there’s another problem.
In so many areas of our lives, we continue to sow with no reaping. Even normal things like eating healthy and exercising are not giving me results like they did previously. It’s very discouraging.
My faith has never been stretched like this before. Months ago, I felt like that was as far as my faith would go, yet here I am. That, in and of itself, is a miracle—a sign that God really does continue to strengthen us and renew our hope. Each time I start feeling completely discouraged, like I can’t go on anymore, God gives me an extra measure of faith.
Faith is never easy. But what is faith, really? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Not long ago, I would have considered faith to be my belief in God. Belief in God is an absolutely necessary part in a Christian’s life, but perhaps belief is more like a prerequisite for faith. Don’t get me wrong: We need to begin at this level of believing God’s Word, but it seems as though many believers have stopped at this point.
Even our initial belief in God calls for faith. Each step of obedience, each step towards God, each time we crack open the Bible to read—it is all done in faith that believes this all matters and will somehow make a difference.
We need faith in everyday moments. We need faith when we eat right and exercise. We need to be able to “see” the future results of our hard work and believe that our sacrifices will be worth it.
We need faith when we go to college, sacrificing money, time, and energy. We have faith that a college education will provide more opportunities for us and enable us to do well in our careers.
We need faith when we parent our children! We need to know that our discipline and sacrifices will eventually show results. We hope for our child to mature into a responsible adult, but right now he’s a whiny toddler throwing a fit in the middle of Target. Faith.
Speaking of parenting, I believe raising a toddler is one of the biggest steps of faith. How many years does a parent invest and sacrifice into a child during the infant/toddler years before she sees results? It takes years! YEARS! But the parent presses on, disciplining and investing into this child with faith of seeing results.
The point is, faith is more than our beliefs. Faith requires action. It’s a risky step that puts our beliefs to the test. Faith sees beyond what we can see in the natural and presses on towards a better future. Biblically speaking, we are hoping for God’s promises to come to fruition—promises spoken of in His Word and promises He’s spoken directly to us for our lives.
Our faith stands on the foundation of the goodness of God and the reliability of His Word. As Bill Johnson says, “The revelation of the goodness of God is our invitation to the life of faith.” It’s our knowledge and experience of the goodness of God that enables us to step out in faith. And faith isn’t through our efforts, but rather our surrender.
What I am learning through this season is that faith requires that I let go of my reputation. It’s funny how we esteem Christians when they play it safe—read the Bible, go to church, lead small groups—you know, the usual (which was how Josh and I lived most of our adult lives). These people seem so mature and wise (I remember those good ol’ days of thinking I had my life all figured out). Then when Christians take God at His Word and give up everything to follow Him, they’re seen as crazy! Yet, wasn’t this the example we see throughout the Bible?
Think about Noah for a second. Noah had to have a crazy amount of faith. God told him to build a boat because He was going to flood the earth…in 100 years. Day in and day out as Noah and his sons erected this monstrous ark, they endured mocking and ridicule. How easy would it have been to give up after just a few days or weeks of this? Noah remained faithful, looking like a fool to those around him, for the entire 100 years.
Are you willing to be considered a fool in the world’s eyes?
I am also learning that the measure of our faith is not in the initial size—our zeal and passion in the beginning. The measure of our faith lies in our perseverance when we don’t see immediate results. In other words, how quickly do you give up?
Perseverance is the difficult part of faith, especially when you notice the trend in the lives of the men and women of faith. There’s a reason the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 were called men and women of faith. It’s not because God gave them promises and proceeded to immediately fulfill them. No, they had to wait. And wait. And wait. Some of them did not even see the fulfillment of the promise in their lifetimes.
Abraham never saw his descendants inherit the Promised Land. Moses only saw the Promised Land from afar. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
I sincerely hope that this is not our fate. I hope my family sees the fulfillment of our surrendered lives and journey of faith. After all, “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6), but even Moses understood that no Promised Land is worth it without the Presence of God. Even if we don’t see this fulfillment, though, we will continue to move forward and not give up because I believe in the goodness of God and trust His purpose for my life.
When we started this journey, I promised to be open and honest with my readers. I didn’t want to sugarcoat our experiences. Many times, we are filled with gratitude with what God has done in our lives. This journey has been exciting and new, filled with unexpected blessings, new friends, amazing experiences, and fun adventures.
The most miraculous part has been how God has been changing us on the inside. It’s all the stuff people can’t see. It’s the roots that are going down deep, preparing for an insurgence of nourishment that makes us stronger and more of a blessing to those around us.
For now, though, this journey is still hard. We get discouraged. We lose heart. It leaves us in a place of completely depending on God. We are perfectly positioned so that we have no choice but to rely on God. It’s a season of learning to trust. Trust requires that we stop leaning on our own understanding and that we stop creating safety nets because we don’t think God will come through. Trust means all in. We are all in.
I really appreciate your feedback and support! Let me know what stuck out to you the most regarding the topic of faith. Are you on a similar journey? Has God called you to something that seems risky? Comment below with your stories, thoughts, or questions!
For more on living a life of faith based on the goodness of God, read Bill Johnson’s “God is Good” and “Dreaming with God“.
Ugh. Is there such a thing as a comfy punch in the stomach? I’m really grateful to the Lord that so much of what you’re writing is what I’m going through. My faith used to be stronger – like, a couple weeks ago it seemed stronger. I needed this. God is also dealing with me about loving my reputation more than I love Him and His ways. Thanks.
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Jamie, you are amazing. This is encouraging TO ME, knowing that my words can help you feel like you’re not alone. Sometimes I don’t know who will understand what the heck I’m writing about, but if just ONE PERSON can connect with it, that makes all the difference in the world to me. It encourages me to keep being vulnerable and writing. 🙂 Love you, lady.
Also, from what you say, it sounds like God is taking you to a new level of faith. He gives us a measure of faith and when we step out in risk (that feeling of leaping of a cliff, hoping for God to catch you), we start doubting ourselves and our level of faith. BUT THEN God catches us, renews our strength, and causes us to trust Him even more. He’s taking you deep, Jamie. It sucks and it feels like we’ll never see the fruit of what we’re going through, but that’s the life of faith.
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Girl, I’m gonna scream.
I just left you a giant paragraph reply. Somewhere in the posting/login process, it ditched it.
Suffice to say, I was crying (about God’s reminders to me in what you wrote; not the aggravating login process). I thank you so much for your transparency. I actually think it may have been you that posted about it recently, but sometimes God’s deliverance is not from our struggles, but IN our struggles.
I read recently about some Christians dealing with specific temptations. It was remarkable to me how well it hit home when they spoke of not really wishing their struggles away. Their pull toward those things actually led them to a tighter relationship with Jesus than they ever would’ve had without it. It’s true. Sometimes I think God’s totally done with me. My lack of faith in His ability to help me is staggering even to me. (Please note: most of my problems are continual and self-inflicted.) He’s been so faithful, placing tangible reminders in my life of his love, faithfulness, and power. And I still doubt His sovereignty. It seems to me that if I was just focused enough, or faithful enough, that my struggles would be over. He’s done that for me in the past.
But maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. The goal is pure holiness, true. But as an end-result, not as a process. The goal of the process is relationship, and struggles are a convincing tether. But He’s good. He’s not a bully, desperate for friends. He’s tethering me to Him for MY benefit. He’s not going to leave me. He’s got a plan, and it’s for my good.
There are just times that faith has to be more deliberate than others, I guess. I’ve been listening to the wrong voice. Thank you for speaking encouragement into my life. I need it.
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I’m definitely in one of those times where “faith has to be more deliberate” than other times. It’s hard. I hear that when we feel that God is distant, it’s because He trusts us to do what He’s put before us, like when we let our kids have space to show we trust them. It’s not a withdrawal; it’s a trusting responsibility.
What I do during these times is remind myself of God’s faithfulness. I have God’s promises that have been spoke over me and my family written out so that I can return to them. I have testimonies that I can reflect on. And when I’m too weak to even do that, I ask my close friends and my husband to do it for me! Sometimes I’m just like, “I don’t even have the ability to be thankful right now!” I get it.
The biggest reminder is that God is good, and not in some mysterious “He enjoys my pain” weirdness. He’s our good Father who has good in store for us, and not just for the afterlife, but in this life! He is reward now in this life.
I really appreciate your honesty and openness. You really are doing a great job. You’re on the journey that most people avoid their entire lives. You’re doing it! 🙂
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Yes, believing God seems like it shouldn’t take so much effort! But it is a choice. And when I don’t feel I have the capacity to conjure up any promises of His, I’m with ya: ask for help. But honestly, sometimes that’s not always an option – at the very least, not in specific matters. So another thing that helps me when He feels silent is reading my Bible. Drawing near to God despite not feeling Him drawing near yet is TOUGH. But we are promised that He will. The funny thing is, He’s speaking to me through His Word, through you, through reminders I see throughout the day…even if I don’t feel or hear Him all the time. He’s been giving me lil hope nuggets – kinda like connect-the-dots. It’s like He’s encouraging me to keep going, even if I’ve got blinders on. Even if I feel duly rejected. I’m definitely going through trials and testing right now. He just seems quieter. Part of me believes these hope nuggets are reassurances from God, part of me believes they’re wishful thinking. It’s a real struggle for me. So if you would keep me in your prayers, I’d certainly appreciate it. I’ll pray for you, dear friend.
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Yes, I will definitely be praying for you. These seasons are so tough. I’m right there with you. That is awesome that you are able to see all the little blessings of God along the way. It’s like the manna in the desert. He sustains us even in the dry seasons. And continue digging into the word. That is our bread. Bill Johnson said when people tell him they aren’t hearing from God, he asks them if they’ve been reading the Bible! Hello! God’s words right there for us to read every day! Haha. Go to those places that give you life and feed your soul–reading the Bible, quiet time with God, talking with good friends, getting out in nature, worshipping, etc. Text me too! I’m here for you!
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Thanks, Dani. You mean fb message? That’d be good. I’m going through stuff right now…
Thank you for your post. I too did not know that “walking by faith ” and trusting God would be so lonely and difficult at times . I have yet to hear from God and am not sure of what I should be doing during this season. I grow weary too and often think I’m being punished. The silence from God is harder than not seeing the manifestations. I appreciate your openness about the process and hope its just a bad day for me and that I’m not giving up. Reading how long some in the bible waited for prayers to be answered is devastating and depressing. Please continue to update how things are going for you and your family. Blessings
Thanks so much for your input. Yes, it’s so hard. I have to remind myself that the fact that I’m not giving up is a sign that I have more faith than I realize. Because I get discouraged. I get impatient. It’s all apart of this process of working out our faith. And you’re doing it!!! Most people don’t even get that far in their faith, so be encouraged! You’re doing a great job, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times. I will definitely keep everyone updated on how we’re doing. It’s an up and down journey. We have good days and bad days… and some REALLY bad days. But our God is faithful. Let us continue to seek His Kingdom in the midst of everything. ❤