“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Tests of faith: I have had a concept backward.
I assumed God was measuring me, eyeing me displeased as he revealed my results. After reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, I realized the opposite to be true; I was the evaluator of the test. I was the one that needed to understand the reality of my own faith and heart. Of where and what I was actually putting my hope in.
The Lord already knows the true Elizabeth Joy—her hopes, her weakness, her faltering faith. He does not need to prove it to himself. I am the one who has to accept the truth of myself.
There were desperate questions in my soul of who I really was when hardships and loss and pain made their way towards me and made nests in my heart. What would happen to my faith when all hope seemed lost? Did I still believe in the Savior of the world, or did I look to save my own soul?
These questions, and more, of where my hope and trust truly rested were answered with the stark reality of my doubting actions contrasted with the perfunctory words recited from my youth. It was time for me to own my faith, or lack thereof.
Unfortunately, as you can guess, I gave myself a big fat ‘F’ on the tests of faith that have come the last number of years. Disappointing indeed to admit my failure to trust, and then to stand in the reality of ‘who I was not’ in what should have been ‘defining moments.’ I would have loved to think my faith was stronger, that I was stronger, but the truth could not be easily ignored. The shortcomings in my faith were clear, but the beauty of the experience was that it highlighted where I needed to strengthen myself in the Lord and grow.
Next time the test of faith came, I didn’t want to falter like I did before; I wanted to be able to stand in truth even when my reality contradicts that truth. But doubt is still an important part of the process that we can't skip. It is essential to a life a faith.
A dear friend of mine recently encouraged me that faith isn’t something that you just come out of the womb being good at. To have a strong faith you have to practice, just like anything else in life. As believers I think that there is this assumption that you have to be proficient at the faith-walk from the beginning of the journey. But faith is just that: a journey, a process of faltering, rising, being made strong where we are weak and remembering the truth of our story and the Lord’s faithfulness in the midst of that story.
A common misconception of faith that I’ve battled is that if I doubt, my faith is not strong. I am starting to realize that the opposite may be true. If I doubt, if I acknowledge the fear, the insecurities — yet I stop and welcome truth, even though there may be a gap in my reality; that is faith in action. Faith is standing in the middle of a mess of uncertainty, seeing the glory of God and moving toward that certainty of that glory.
Faith has to co-exist with doubt. Faith is born at the delta of doubt.
How can you have faith or why would it need to be employed if there is no doubting, no fear, no insecurity? How can you know you need faith if there is no acceptance of opposite reality waging war in your soul? Maybe the only way to apply and practice faith is to accept the opposite reality of doubt, lay it at the feet of the Lord, and move toward the reality and truth of a loving Savior.
Even this day, doubt and fear are knocking at my door, telling me that my story will not see the day of redemption. I hear the fear and anxiety banging. I recognize their persistence in my life, but I sing quietly of the redemption of a Savior until I can no longer hear the rhythms of doubt, but only the fierce certainty of grace and hope.
This is the kind of faith I am learning to love and find strength in; a doubting faith, born at the delta.