How can a person know if they’re trusting God or they’re relying upon wishful thinking?
Is it possible to trust God and worry at the same time?
Am I hoping and praying, or am I believing?
I’ve had people tell me, “Just trust God.” I would love to; all the time. And while I know I trust Him completely in some areas of my life, I have to be honest and say I struggle believing Him in others.
Is that a sin?
There are some who will say, “Yes, it’s a sin.” Then they’ll quote the verse, “…For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23 ESV)
Excuse me, but that isn’t the whole verse, or its context. If I could pick and choose parts of verses, I could argue that “Faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)
But I won’t.
Faith isn’t a switch we flip on and off. Faith IS “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith knows, it doesn’t ask questions, it never doubts.
Faith pleases God.
But there’s something else which pleases God.
Believing His word. Acting on His word.
“But I thought faith and believing were the same thing?” Not necessarily.
The man said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” It seems like the man was struggling a bit, but was still pointed the right direction.
Notice this passage regarding the father of faith, faithful Abraham:
“And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’” (Genesis 15:6 – 15:8 ESV)
Several times in the New Testament you’ll find the words, “And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”
He believed, but notice, while he believed he still asked the question, “…how am I to know…?”.
Faith would have said, “Terrific! It’s as good as done. I’ve got all the substance and evidence I need. I have God’s Word.”
The difference? Faith is something you have. Believing is something you do.
That’s why we struggle at times with believing.
Here’s another verse people like to quote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5 – 1:8 ESV)
There isn’t one of us who hasn’t struggled with this passage at some point in our life.
But what’s James really saying?
Do you lack wisdom? Are you uncertain what move to make, or step to take? Ask God, in faith, without doubting.
Doubting what? Don’t doubt God will give you wisdom, because He will.
The struggle (I seem to be using that word a lot) lies in recognizing God’s answer. Sometimes it isn’t too clear and we start thinking we are double-minded because we just aren’t understanding our next step.
There have been times when I asked for wisdom, knowing God would give it. But I somehow allowed myself to be confused with the fine print. I know He gave it, I just wasn’t seeing it.
It is possible to believe and worry at the same time.
Back to father Abraham. Do you honestly think he wasn’t the least bit concerned as he raised the knife to slay his only son? He believed, but he didn’t leave his emotions or fears at the bottom of the mountain.
But in spite of them, because he believed, he obeyed.
I’m saying all of this for one primary reason: faith and believing pose huge problems for our adversary, the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9). And if he can make us think we’re a failure because we doubt and struggle (there it is again) in believing without worrying, many times he can get us to give up, throw in the towel, walk away from the Word, and say, “I’m such a loser; I’ll never please God.”
The devil is a liar!
Even if you don’t have the substance and evidence of faith, and there’s a bit of worry and doubt hanging around, don’t give in to the devil’s lies. If you’ve started believing, don’t stop.
Keep on believing! Keep doing what you know to do, what His Word said you can and should do, and let the feelings come and go.
You can believe and cry at the same time. John 11:35
You can believe and feel as though your heart has been ripped out of your chest. Mark 5:35,36
It is possible to trust and worry at the same time.
But when you recognize the presence of worry, do what the scripture says in Philippians 4:6-7.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6 – 4:7 NLT)