at worship rehearsal tonight, my worship pastor prayed something that made my eyes pop open. she prayed that God would renew our “fighting faith.”
faith that’s not just holding on. faith that’s moving beyond simple belief. faith that is active in its pursuit. faith that is in motion, battle, war for its object.
i’ve been struggling with having faith, any kind of faith, for the past couple weeks. much as i believe IN God, much as i believe that He is, and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, I’ve been having trouble having faith for a few particular things. as i told a couple of friends, i’ve been finding it difficult to hold onto hope. i started to feel that hoping, in and of itself, was cruel. i was suffering from the very malady described by Proverbs 13:12: a heart made sick by hope deferred.
Hope deferred. I truly think this is one of the greatest killers of fighting faith. For when you battle, push, attack, defend, constantly war for a hope and it just never seems to happen…eventually you tire. Eventually, you say “i’m over it,” lay down your weapons, and just take a nap. In Christianese, you say “maybe this just isn’t God’s will.” sound uber-spiritual, and accept your perceived stone. You fast, pray, hold a meeting, fast some more, read every affirming scripture you can find, then…just give up. Your hope is delayed. You are left waiting. watching.
And that’s where I found myself tonight, walking into worship rehearsal. My hope was delayed, just long enough that my heart stopped caring. My sickness was manifesting itself as a certain callousness, an almost involuntary decision to stop wanting because it hurt too much. I kept asking for bread, and it seemed like I was constantly handed a stone. To hope, long, plead, and not receive – it was enough to make me say “surely i have kept myself pure in vain.” (Psalm 73). I was able to worship because I gave up on my hope. I couldn’t reconcile worshipping while hoping – because the very act of hoping seemed to say that God was cruel, that He didn’t care to provide.
But that prayer, it kindled something in me. My fire was reignited. I was reminded: I must fight for my faith. Not just my faith in God. No, I must fight for my faith in what God will do. Fight for my faith that He cares about the things that make me cry. Fight for my faith that He is able to turn stones into bread. Fight for my faith that He will give me the desires of my heart. Fight for my faith that He is fighting beside me. Fight for my faith that He has a future and a hope for me. A hope.
This type of faith, faith that makes it through the nights of weeping and pleading and days of smiling and pressing; this type of faith isn’t easily held. This type of faith comes through a fight. It is a battle to hold the faith that fights for the matters nearest to our hearts. It is a war, a war that the enemy of our soul wants to win to keep us just slightly less effective. It is a war, and we dare not lay down our weapon and walk away.
Join me. Think of the matters closest to your heart – the things that you cry about in the night, the things that you only dare ask those closest to you to pray for because you are so vulnerable there. Join me in fighting for the faith to keep hoping for those things – the salvation, the relationships, the marriages, the children, the dreams that make you say, “if i just received that desire of my heart…” Take a deep breath. Pick up your weapons. Take position – raise your hands, get on your knees, lay on your face, whatever is your posture of worship and prayer. Now.
It’s time to fight.