‘Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe’. Mark 16:9-11
This scripture has always astounded me. Jesus told the disciples over and over again that He was going to be crucified and rise again and to think that the disciples who walked closely with Jesus, and were taught by Him, still did not believe.
We are called ‘believers’ because we believe in Jesus Christ. We entered into a relationship with God through believing in Jesus, but that was only the beginning. When we follow the Lord, we live with a growing faith in that we learn to believe and trust God for bigger things, things that we would never have thought of in our early Christian days.
Is there then a difference between faith and believing? In the bible, faith and believing are used interchangeably. Faith is that which comes from our spirit, it is a gift from God. Believing is a choice and it takes place within our soul (our mind, will and emotions). Believing is to choose to believe mentally or to agree with God and this unleashes the faith in God.
If we reflect on the above scripture, can we relate it to our lives? Are there times when we too do not believe? We can have faith in God, but maybe don’t believe that all of His promises are for us and that He will do what He says He will do? There are times that our unbelief can be a hindrance to our spiritual growth because we don’t make the choice to believe God and His Word above the challenge or the circumstance that we are faced with. Instead of believing in God and His greatness, we look at our circumstances and believe that to be greater than God’s ability to work in that situation.
There are certain things that we as ‘believers’ need to settle within our minds and choose to believe no matter what our circumstance. I have narrowed it down to three beliefs and significant truths:
The first is, we have to believe that God is a good Father. Psalm 145:9 says ‘The Lord is good to all and His mercy is over all that He has made’ and Psalm 100:5 says, ‘For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation’. We can depend on the unchanging goodness of God. God will always be good. His character does not change. He will continue to be the creator of all things good and we can be confident He will provide good things for us according to His perfect plan. The Goodness of God is the core of our Christian faith. It is because of His desire for our good that He provided salvation through His Son. Everything God does is for our good.
James 1.17 says ‘whatever is good and perfect is a gift from God our Father’. That then means whatever is bad is not from God but from the enemy. One of the enemy’s favourite schemes is to send something bad into a person’s life and blame it on God. If he can get people to believe it is from the Lord, he has an easier time convincing them of his next lie, that God has failed or deserted them. He follows this up with a further lie, ‘why go on serving a God who does these kinds of things to you?’ His real target is to destroy your faith in God and make you believe that God is not a good God.
The second key belief is twofold, we have to believe that God is true to His Word and that every promise in His Word is for us to receive and walk in. God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19). He will never say something in His Word and then not fulfil it. We have to believe that whatever God instructs us to do in His Word, we can accomplish it in Him, no matter how difficult it may seem. If God tells us to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us, we need to believe that in Him we can forgive, knowing that He first forgave us, God will grant us the grace and the strength to be able to forgive and He will do the rest by removing the hurt and the pain from us.
The third key belief is that God can change anyone and any circumstance. When it comes to the difficult people in our lives, be it a family member, spouse, child or boss, we must resist looking at them with the natural eye or at the other person’s ability to change themselves. If we do that, our focus shifts from what God can do in that person to relying on that person changing themselves, and discouragement sets in. We then stop praying for them and we stop believing that God can change their hearts. Before we decide to give up on someone, we need to ask God if He has given up on them and remind ourselves of His word in Ezekiel 36:26 ‘And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart.’
We have to believe that whatever circumstance or challenge we are currently faced with God can change it according to His will. He will take us through the challenge.
The challenging circumstance you are faced with now is a reality, there is no denying that, but we need to remember that not all reality is truth. We need to know what God’s truth is and choose to believe that over the reality. It’s in the difficult times that we need to remind ourselves of who God really is – our Saviour, our creator, our hope, our deliver, our healer, our provider, our strength, our joy and choose to believe that nothing is impossible or too difficult for God to do.
Sometimes we lose our belief because we ask God for something and we don’t receive it or we don’t see the prayer being answered. But have you ever thought that maybe God didn’t want you to have it because He had something better ready for you? Or He knew that what you were actually asking for or praying for, would not have been for your good?
Life is so wonderful when you can come to the point where in every situation you can proclaim and testify to God’s goodness and His faithfulness. You just know that if you don’t receive all that you were believing God for or praying for, that God is still good and He has something greater in plan for you.
What are you believing God for in your life? Maybe it’s something in your marriage, or your spouse or spouse to be, or for your children or your health or finances? I want to encourage you to make a quality decision to believe God no matter what the circumstance. Read His Word, find out what His promises are for you and then start to truly believe them.
God will always do what He says…you just have to believe.
-Leigh De Freitas