I start this post with a confession: I’m writing it because I’ve spent considerable amounts of time in prayer recently as God stretches my faith through some unexpected circumstances. I’m still learning (even after being a believer for more than 48 years) to trust God today. That’s why I’ve been reviewing not only how God has stretched me, but also how He has always come through.
- Delayed answers to prayer. I have at times struggled when God has chosen to take His time in answering my prayers – especially when I could find nothing blatant in my life that would have hindered those prayers. I don’t always understand His plan.
- Struggles in the church. I’ve not had to face as much as others have, but I’ve had situations where the actions of church people led to my discouragement and defeat. After all, I had “signed up” to serve the Lord, not to deal with silliness.
- Poor leadership on my part. More often than I care to admit, the problems I’ve faced in churches have been the result of my bad leadership more than issues with others. And, when I mess up, I still wrestle a bit with, “Should I even be doing this work?” I know better, but my failures still stretch my faith.
- Enduring grief over non-believing loved ones. I’m dealing with this one now. Despite the very real fact that I saw God save my mom and dad after decades of prayer, still I battle frustration and faithlessness when I’m still praying long for others. Sometimes I ask, “How long, oh Lord?”
- A calling to stay when I want to go. Frankly, I’m a wanderer in my mind even though I typically stay in a job for a number of years. Even when I seem to be settled, I’m almost always thinking about the next “greener grass.” Staying focused where I am then becomes a faith issue for me.
- Ongoing battles with temptation. The Lord is gracious to give me moment-by-moment victory, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still face temptations I’ve faced most of my life. I thought, for example, I’d grow out of the thorn of lust in my life, but I still don’t always win those battles. On my toughest faith days, I question why God doesn’t just remove the thorn.
- Dark nights of the soul. I wrote the two posts (here and here) I published last Friday because I am one of those leaders who deal with such dark nights. I continue to experience God’s grace in those nights, but they’re nevertheless real – and they stretch my belief system every time they happen.
- A lack of results in my work. I want to be careful here, as I don’t want to suggest that I must always see results to believe God is at work. At the same time, though, I entered ministry—and continue to operate this way—with a deep passion to see non-believers saved and disciples made. When I don’t see those kinds of results, my faith wonders why.
How has God stretched your faith? If He’s stretching you today, let me know how I might pray for you.