We all have times when we struggle to stand strong in our faith. The times when we start to ask questions like, ‘God what are You doing?’ and ‘God, what do I need to do?'
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says he is longing to visit and equip them to keep standing in their faith.
I yearn to come and be face-to-face with you and get to know you. For I long to impart to you the gift of the Spirit that will empower you to stand strong in your faith. Romans 1:11 TPT
The Amplified Bible says it this way,
For I long to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift, to strengthen and establish you. Romans 1:11 AMP
The Message Bible says it this way,
The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! Romans 1:11 The Message
Paul talks about the gift that will help the Romans to stand strong in their faith, and strengthen and establish them. What is this gift?
I found this explanation in the MacArthur Study Bible ….
Romans 1:11 Spiritual gift. The Greek word translated “gift” is charisma, which means “a gift of grace” – a spiritual enablement whose source is the Spirit of God. Romans use this same term to describe: 1) Christ Himself (5:15,16); 2) General blessings from God (11:29; 1 Timothy 6:17); and 3) specific spiritual gifts given to members of the body to minister to the whole (12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; 1 Pet 4.10,11). Paul probably intends to encompass all 3.
Going with the ‘encompass all 3’, let’s explore the concept of 'the spiritual enablement whose source is the Spirit of God.'
Recently in a radio interview about our journey with a child with cancer I was asked about “Finding meaning when things don’t go the way you had dreamed.”
"Finding meaning" could also be expressed as ‘How do you come to a place of standing strong and trusting in God when you are overwhelmed with disappointment and grief?”
For me, the answer is about the processing of disappointment and grief. A processing, that to get the best outcome, must be facilitated by the Spirit of God. In my experience that processing involves many aspects including:
Having authentic conversations with God, expressing my inner most thoughts, heartaches and fears, and then giving Him time to speak and minister to me.
Having authentic conversations with people God brought into my life, close friends, counsellors, support groups.
Gaining an understanding of the stages of grief, which helped to normalise the process for me. I can highly recommend a short but very informative book, Good Grief – By Granger E. Westberg.
Regularly reading God’s Word, expecting that He would speak to me through it, helping me to understand that He did understand the pain I was in. The Psalms so often reflected all my emotions! When I was feeling overwhelmed and unsure what to do next, the declaring of this scripture brought peace.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Constantly surrendering my plans, my dreams for me and my family to God. For me, this mostly happened during times of worship, usually when I was in my car by myself.
Increasing the ‘closet’ time I spent with God by, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, getting up earlier to have that daily quiet time with Him. That was truly a spiritual enablement whose source is the Spirit of God. Getting up an hour earlier, having a more focused time of worship, prayer, listening and reading God’s word transformed my relationship with God.
So there are some of the key activities I did that enabled me to stand strong in my faith during challenging times. Easy!
But no, it is far from easy. Mainly because we have our own thoughts and ways of doing of things, and processing disappointment and grief with the spiritual enablement whose source is the Spirit of God, is all about doing it God’s way. It is a continual surrendering of all we know and letting God have control. It is repeatedly choosing to say “Jesus, you are Lord of my life, all of it!”
Every activity we undertake in this process must be accompanied by that desire to believe that God is good, He is faithful and that He has a plan. I say desire because sometimes the reality is we don’t believe that God is good, but we want to believe it. We need God’s help to get back to that place of belief. Remember the father’s prayer in Mark 9:24….
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:23-24 NKJV.
It is the spiritual enablement whose source is the Spirit of God, which really does enable us to process disappointment and grief well, bringing us back to that place where we can declare with certainty in our heart scriptures like Romans 8:37-39
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV
So today, if you are having trouble standing firm in your faith, I strongly encourage you to make the time to sit quietly with God, tell Him how you really feel, ask Him for His help to enable you to believe that He is at work in the unseen, declare His word and then choose to worship Him in faith.
And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
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