Thursday, May 5

Overcoming Powerlessness

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"--Mark 9:24

I am very glad that understanding God is not requisite for living a life of faith. I have experienced many things throughout my life that absolutely defy human understanding. I don't have the ability to explain away times of trials and suffering. By the same token, I cannot speak with the appropriate language to define why God has rained down so many beautiful blessings on me.

As is the case for just about everyone, inexplicable adverse circumstances can create a feeling of utter powerlessness. Some church-goers would have you believe that when bad things happen, it is due to a lack of faith. Faith and belief, although very similar and undoubtedly related, are not quite the same thing. Although I believe there are periods in each person's life when your spiritual life is affected by unbelief (i.e. less than full belief), I do not believe there is a correlation between trials and degree of faith.

Personally, I don't think there are gray areas when it comes to faith--you either have it or you don't. Belief on the other hand, is how faith is expressed, and that is something that has a broad range of strength. I think it is entirely possible to have faith but still be uncertain in your beliefs. Faith and belief, although very similar and undoubtedly related, are not quite the same thing.

Varying degrees of unbelief may be directly proportional to feelings of powerlessness. For example, if you are only 50% certain that your car's engine will turn over each time you attempt to start the car, then 50% of the time you will feel powerless in you ability to arrive at work on time. Since faith is "being sure of what is hoped for" as it says in Hebrews, faith that your car will start is a good thing, but the car's engine is unaffected by any displays of faith on your part. Your feelings of powerlessness are more about how you respond to the situation that results when you're left sitting there in your stranded vehicle.

It stands to reason that in order to overcome feelings of powerlessness, we must increase the fullness of our belief in response to the faith that we have been given by the Holy Spirit. This means that we believe more consistently that God sees us in our individual situations and has a plan for meeting our needs at that time. Eventually we will look back to see how God has delivered us from trials in the past, and sustained us in times of need. When we see that He has not failed us in times past, we come to believe more fully that He will consistently provide for us in present and future situations.

We all experience varying degrees of unbelief. We all go through times where our faith is tested by any number of situations. Faith need not be accompanied by understanding. It is easy for us to accept the things we understand, and when we find ourselves surrounded by things we don't understand we may struggle. In those times it is the strength of our belief that falters or changes, not necessarily our faith. When we ask God to help us with our unbelief, we are asking Him to assure us in our faith and accept the things we either can't or won't be able to understand. Faith enables us to push aside unbelief and feelings of powerlessness.

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