I think it’s normal for a young person to adopt Jeremiah 29:11 as their favorite or life verse. I was no different. Until I got to college. My life verse then changed to something a bit unexpected, but it has proven true in every huge moment in my life.
Hebrews 10:23—“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
This verse was written in gold letters on my graduation cap in 2015. And it has been written in ink across my left shoulder since this time last year.
When I got “He who promised is faithful” permanently written on my body, it simply seemed like the right thing to do. Obviously, it’s my favorite verse and I already know God is faithful and keeps His promises, so why not write it down where it can’t be erased? Well, a year later, I now better understand my reason for wanting the tattoo and I know His faithfulness in a whole new way.
Let me explain.
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents are both strong Christians and they did everything they could to teach me and my siblings what it means and looks like to follow Christ, have faith in Him, love Him as He first loved us. I took to faith early on in life and it became real for me when I was around 14 years old. Suddenly the old beat up Bible on the shelf that was designated as mine was interesting. Suddenly the words written there were worth reading, the verses worth memorizing and writing down on pieces of paper, sticking them all over my bedroom walls and door. Suddenly prayer was something that came naturally to me. Suddenly I enjoyed going to church for more reasons than the mere fact that I would see friends there.
Time advanced. I grew older. My relationship with Christ grew deeper. I noticed that the world I live in can cause a lot of damage to that precious relationship. I knew I would have to protect it if I wanted it to survive. Scripture (find the right Scriptures) told me faith was the key to everything. Life, with all its challenges and joy and sorrow and happiness and tears, would not make sense without faith in Christ to carry me through.
I went so long without much of a challenge, I got lazy, naively believing that I was untouchable. And then college started. College held the most challenges I had encountered up until that point. I had to learn to be strong and faithful. And through the challenges I learned more about myself, about my Savior and about our relationship. And I knew instinctively from that point on that I wouldn’t be happy in life unless I could somehow combine the importance of my faith with everything else—career, family, relationships, etc.
It had to be the center of my life, the center of everything. Without it, I would be lost.
After graduating I learned that college was easy compared to the real world. During my season of being a recent graduate with next to no real prospects on the job front, I would sit in my room with my Bible open and think, Wow, things are certainly never going to get easier, that’s for sure.
Over the last nearly three years since graduating, God has allowed many different challenges to intersect my path. And these challenges…currently I’m having a hard time believing that anything could top them. It scares me to believe that someday I will endure deeper heartache and pain. So the question I am asking right now is this: How do I strengthen my faith and rely on God, whom I should have faith in, when I feel like I don’t have any faith left? And where does this leave me?
Something I need to keep in mind is there isn’t any way I can know what God is doing right now, or what He had in mind when every single trial began. Furthermore, there’s no way He fell asleep on the job. He didn’t get tired and take His eyes off of me and then suddenly couldn’t find me. And even more important than that, He would never want me to deny the range of emotions and feelings I have right now or the reality that none of them make perfect, complete sense to me all the time. I need to remember that honesty with Him is and will always be important.
So what is my reality right now? The feeling that the deep and abiding relationship I have with Christ is not nearly as potent as it should be. Why? Because I am having a hard time trusting Him. This is a tough conundrum to have because where faith is, usually trust is close by. But while I believe and have faith that Jesus is real, that He came to die for my sins, was buried, rose again, ascended to heaven and is coming back again, I am having a hard time trusting Him with myself.
Now it’s not a matter of believing He hasn’t proved Himself to be trustworthy; He always has, always does, always will. It’s more about the current circumstances I find myself in, the reality that the feelings brimming over in my heart, are so intense and telling me that I need to keep everything close to the chest, even from God.
I am having a hard time believing that He can heal me and redeem me.
As I write this, though, I have come to a few realizations:
- God started the redemption process in me a long time ago, and even when I don’t feel it, He’s redeeming me.
- For someone who enjoys depending on feelings, it’s hard for me to have faith when faith has no feeling. This is the second season in my life where faith has felt particularly difficult, all because the strong feelings from the previous joyful season have faded and difficulty has taken its place.
- When trust is difficult, you have to keep trying and doing it anyway. In the last five months I have had so many new relationships take root in my heart and each one of them has served a huge God-purpose in my story. Without me even realizing when it’s happening or even how it’s happening, God uses multiple people throughout my day to encourage me, to show me that I can trust them, I can trust HIM. After all, He has brought all of these amazing, strong, Godly women into my circle.
- Telling my story for the benefit of another is relieving. Multiple times in the last month God has presented numerous opportunities to share my story or simply be honest about something, and every single time the answer has been, “I’m going through that too.” What better way is there for me to work on my trust in God than allowing Him to remind me I’m not alone? What the enemy used to isolate me, God is using to build a community of trust, revealing a bit more of His grand purpose for me every day.
So my conclusion is this: Faith doesn’t always bring good feelings, just like the process of getting a tattoo. Sometimes I’m genuinely down about something, genuinely can’t shake off the funk I’m in, genuinely worried about someone, genuinely trying my hardest to pray with faith, and it’s hard to do. But this feeling of having such frail faith isn’t going to last forever, just like the pain of getting a tattoo is temporary. God continues to teach me these trials and frustrations will make my faith even stronger for tomorrow. And at the end of the day, I have stronger faith and a beautiful reminder of it. Though the trials ahead I’m sure will only get harder as I get older, that’s okay. Because my faith stands.