Develop Faith That Transcends Circumstances

Faith is one of the most important aspects of our spiritual life. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…Without faith it’s impossible to please God. 

Heb. 11:1, 6

If we don’t have faith, our walk with God is dead in the water, so to speak.

However, for many of us, our faith life is not what it should be. I should know, because all too often I fall into that category.

My faith seems to falter when I need it the most.

When things are looking their bleakest, that’s when my faith should shine. However, those are often the times when I withdraw inward and keep God at a distance.

I’ve been a believer in Christ for over three and a half decades. You’d think my faith would have grown some by now.

You may be like me—finding yourself in the position of doubting God, doubting that He will come through this time. Even though He has proven Himself over and over, you still doubt.

Our faith muscle needs stretching if it is to grow. If we truly want our faith to transcend any circumstances we find ourselves in, we need to use it every day.

From the small things to the large things, we must trust God in everything. Then, and only then, will our faith begin to grow and strengthen.

I’m amazed at the faith that Abraham displays when God asks him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. I’m not sure I trust God enough to follow through with that.

I would doubt whether I was hearing God correctly. I’d say something like, “Are you sure this is what you want me to do, Lord?” or “No, I can’t do THAT. Surely you want me to do something else, right?”

Abraham’s faith lets him stand out as one of the greatest believers ever. He had to look beyond his circumstances and draw deeply from his well of faith in God.

I believe that’s what we must do if we’re to develop that kind of faith. 

No matter what our situation looks like from our perspective, we must remember that God sees things from His 360-degree view. 

He’s not limited to living in just the present like we are. Time is His construct, and He is in the past, present, and future all at the same time.

God knows how everything is going to turn out—you can count on that.

Even when things look their worst, we can trust that He is in control. That’s what Abraham did, and that’s what we have to do as well.

Trusting God for little things first will help grow our faith, especially if we’re unsure we can fully trust him for the big things in life.

However, just remember that your situation may not always work out how you think it should.

Often, God has a different plan than we do, and the thing we pray about and hope will come to pass may not happen. 

We must trust God nonetheless, knowing that His way is best. When we can do this, we’ll be on the path to growing our faith.

Abraham’s Faith Vs. Our Faith

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.’”

Gen. 12:1-2

The above verses are explicit instructions from God to Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham. It would be difficult for Abram to misunderstand what God was saying to him. 

Abram is to “go,” then God will “show,” “make,” “bless,” and “make” again, then finally Abram will simply “be.”

Upon analyzing these two verses, all I can say is “Wow.” 

It would be nice to have that kind of crystal clear instruction from God. There would be no confusion or ambiguity. You’d know exactly what was expected of you and precisely what God would then do.

However, God rarely speaks to us in this way. Perhaps the reason why lies in the fact that today, as followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit who speaks to us in a still, small voice. We have to be especially tuned into Him to hear and understand His subtle direction.

If we compare our situation today with that of Abram’s from thousands of years ago, what can we take away from it?

As I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep last night, I began thinking about the subject of faith. Specifically, I thought about the faith of Abram, given the specific instructions he was entrusted with by God, as compared to our faith today when we are so often unsure of what God’s next steps are for us. 

Are these the same types of faith? Is it fair to compare Abram’s faith with ours? He had clear, audible communication from God. All he had to do was follow His directions and he was guaranteed to be blessed.

We know that Abram is credited with having great faith.

 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land”

Heb. 11:8-9a

Selfishly I suppose, I can’t help but think to myself that it doesn’t take nearly as much faith to follow the explicit directions Abram was given, compared to the kind of faith it requires to move in a direction that you’re just praying and hoping is what God wants from you.

Why is Abraham specifically mentioned as a biblical character who displayed such great faith? On the surface, it seems all he really did was just follow orders. I could do that (at least I think I could).

Maybe it was harder than it first appears for Abram to leave his home and go to a foreign land. I know it’s not something I’d necessarily want to do. Yet, he followed God’s leading and through him the nation of Israel was formed. 

Maybe God had to be explicit with Abram because so much was on the line. If Abram had been uncertain about his calling, his faith might have faltered and the course of history would have taken a drastically different turn.

I believe that God knew what He was doing when He gave Abram those instructions. And I believe He knows what He’s doing when He whispers to us softly in the midst of our busy lives.

It’s just up to us to keep our ears close to Him.

Tithing – God Wants Our Heart, Not Our Money

Admittedly, I’ve had a long, hard struggle with tithing. I’ve always wanted to do it, but most of the time have never felt like I really had the money to actually do so.

Deep down, I believe it’s the right thing to do. But not because it’s one of the 10 commandments (because it’s not), but because in example after example in the Bible, we see where God’s faithful servants always give Him the first part of their income or harvest.

In Genesis 14:20, Abraham did it long before the law was given: “‘And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”

Jesus later reaffirmed the practice in the New Testament: “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.’”

God even tells us to test Him and see if He won’t come through by honoring our tithe.

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test [emphasis mine], says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:10-11).

The underlying issue is not that God wants our money. As everybody who has ever written about the issue of tithing has said, God doesn’t need our money. He owns it all anyway. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).

Everything comes from Him because it was all His to begin with anyway. When we tithe or give our offerings, we’re just giving Him back what was already his.

He even tells us that He is the one who makes it possible for us to have any money to give away. “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all” (1 Chron. 29:12a).

Then why do we need to tithe? The answer is that God wants our heart. Money is hard to part with. If we show God that we trust Him enough to give Him our money, then He knows that He has our hearts.

Jesus tells us to love God with everything we have. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’” (Matt. 22:37-38).

Jesus also tells us to store our treasures in Heaven because “‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt 6:21).

The backstory to Malachi 3 where God tells us to test Him is that the Israelites weren’t giving God their tithes, so they weren’t giving Him their whole hearts. They didn’t trust God or revere God enough to give him the first of all their harvest and their livestock.

When God told the Israelites to tithe, he knew that if they did they would be giving their whole selves to Him. That’s what He was trying to accomplish. He didn’t want their money and he doesn’t want our money today. He wants our hearts.

When we give all of ourselves to God, we open ourselves us to receive His blessings. And that includes His peace and freedom from worry. If there’s always that one small part of us that we’re holding out and not giving over to God, He can’t fully bless us; we’ll never fully know His peace.

Tithing may not be the answer to all your problems with stress and worry, but the simple act of giving God back the money that was His to begin with may play a crucial role in your mental health. Doing so shows Him that you trust Him and are putting your life and well-being in His hands.

Try it. Tithe and see what happens. Test God just as He tells us to do in Malachi. You may be surprised with the results.