How to walk by faith when life gets tough
What does walking by faith mean? If you have been chatting with me over the past year you know that faith, forgiveness, and moving forward have been the themes of my life. During the pandemic, I have been thinking and processing what it means to walk by faith. I have been reading in scripture about men and women who walked by faith against great odds, disappointments, and setbacks. The more I think and ponder, the more I realize that they all had a few things in common.
Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (Message)
These four principles caught my eye:
- Start running
- Never quit
- Keep your eyes on Jesus
- Study how he did it
I hope to break each of these phrases down in a way that is both applicable and encouraging.
Scripture uses phrases set as renew mind, set your mind, or think on things as it pertains to our way of thinking. In other words, it all starts with the right mindset. For the past 18 years, I have worked in college athletics and had the privilege of working with some phenomenal athletes. During my time I have noticed that while preparing your body and fine-tuning your skills are very important, the mind is what separates good athletes from the great athletes.
I remember having a student-athlete who struggled with one of our conditioning tests, the three-mile run. This run was part of our preseason routine and every year she struggled. She would hit a mental block at the 2-mile marker and her body would follow suit. She would begin to slow down her pace from a jog to a shuffle. By then the allotted time to complete the run was over, however it was over when she THOUGHT that she couldn’t do it.
Ready, set, go
To start over and walk by faith, you must decide that this is what you are going to do. Walking by faith requires action which is rooted in knowing what scripture says about you and your purpose. Make the decision to not allow your past to dictate your future. Read and apply the promises that he has spoken over your life.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b
Friend, it doesn’t matter what you have been through or currently experiencing. Set your mind on Christ, immerse yourself in His Word, and begin to change your mindset from victim to victor. I want to encourage you to find a verse, write it down, place it on your bathroom mirror, and read it every day. Those words will begin to shape your thoughts which in turn guide your actions.
Deciding to keep going even when life is hard is not easy and oftentimes you just want to quit. I remember feeling as if the dreams and goals that I set for myself would never come to pass because of setbacks or personal miscues. I wanted to give up but I knew that was not an option. During my faith walk, I decided to study Joseph. If you have never read his account in Genesis 37-50, I encourage you to do so. His story is filled with hope, betrayal, loss, disappointments, and redemption. As Joseph went from peaks to valleys, he never quit or lost sight of the dream that the Lord gave him. I’m sure he had moments when he was discouraged and even angry but he kept going. Friends….KEEP GOING!
I believe that three things occurred during his valley moments:
- He continued to work in excellence
- Guarded his tongue
- Trusted the Lord
The Lord was preparing Joseph for his next assignment during those hard times. That is why we must continue to keep going and never stop. Now does keep going mean that we try to remove ourselves from the hard times. No, it means that we continue to press through them, trusting the Lord the entire time. We surrender our will and trust His plan.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
You see friend the ultimate prize isn’t things or wealth, its to be in the presence of the one He created us and knows us. Jesus is our prize! Let us never quit pursuing Him.
Keep your eyes on Jesus
Walking by faith means that we must keep our eyes on Jesus. This world is filled with so many distractions and competing forces that can cause us to focus on everything but Jesus. What is a practical application?
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; Psalms 63:1
Pray continually. I Thessalonians 5:17
Allow the Word of God to be the guidepost for how you live and make decisions. When you get up in the morning choose to spend time with Him before you spend time with anyone else. Trust me I know that it can be challenging. My daughter is an early riser which means I have to get up even early to have my devotion time. It might be challenging but the payoff is immeasurable!
The only way that we can run and never quit is to have our gaze upon the one who knows the race that we are currently running. We all played follow the leader when we were growing up. The only way to be successful in the game to keep our eyes on the leader giving directions. Let us keep our gaze on the one who has already chartered our race.
Study how He did it
If we want to know how to walk by faith then we should study how Christ walked this Earth. Jesus is our greatest example. He was fully surrendered to Father. Jesus walked through hard times but still did the will of the Father. He would remove himself from distractions and spend time in prayer because He knew that to do the Father’s will he couldn’t do it within His own strength.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
As I think about Christ being arrested and knowing that He was going to die a brutal death as an innocent man it is oftentimes hard for me to fathom. He showed such great faith in the plan that the Father had to redeem mankind back to himself. There was only one plan and that was to die on the cross for the sins of the world. Great faith. Amazing love. Jesus trusted in the faithfulness of the Father and as believers, we should too.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Let us continue to walk by faith, trusting in His plan, and keeping our eyes fixed on Him. It is important to remember that He is with us through the ups, downs, and in-betweens. Be encouraged!