Several times in the Gospel, we find Jesus frustrated with the lack of faith of those He is teaching. From the Apostles who were scared in the boat with Him during the storm (Matthew 8:26) to the poor father whose mute son was not healed by Jesus’ followers (Mark 9:17-23), to the people of Nazareth for whom Jesus could not perform any miracles (Matthew 13:58), we are shown the example of what not to do in the presence of the Lord. However, if the people who walked the Earth with Jesus struggled with their faith, especially after seeing His miracles, do we have any hope?
Absolutely, we do. And if we slip back to doubt, we imitate these people we find in scripture who also fell. We seek to regain our faith by proclaiming to the Lord, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
There are other steps we can take to grow in our faith. While we will never be entirely invincible to the temptation of doubt, this will help us hold on to the Lord when those temptations come. However, it is good to remember that even the most significant figures in the Church’s history have struggled with hanging on to perfect faith. This is not to deter you from trying but to reassure you in your efforts to continue to fight for your faith.
Forget about Descartes
The first step we need to take to grow in our faith is to forget about Rene Descartes, a well-known philosopher from the Enlightenment who destroyed human understanding of reality. His most famous statement, “I think therefore I am,” has been wretchedly used to promote backward thinking, which I believe could be a source for the growth in mental health issues in our time.
In one of his most famous works, Discourse on the Method, he proclaimed he would no longer accept any knowledge he received from school and the teachings of others. He would trust only himself to discover what is real.
We must recognize the influence this philosopher, who wrote his thoughts about 400 years ago, has on us today. While I wonder if he was only trying to be smart, his way of thinking is used by everyone today. It all boils down to his point of forgetting everything he learned and then rebuilding his knowledge only using his senses.
In today’s world, it is quite normal for someone to fully believe that only science, which depends largely on utilizing one’s senses to observe and determine the nature of things, can determine what is and is not valid. While science can prove many wonderful things, such as how rainbows form, we should recognize its limitations.
Furthermore, to carry on one’s quest to grow in one’s faith, we must forget this way of thinking with only the senses to determine what is real. However, it should be noted that in his work, Discourse on the Method, Descartes shows how God must be real by merely using his observations of the world around him.
Still, we must forget about Descartes because, while our senses will, by all means, validate our faith often in life, and they are how we come to know and understand the world around us, there are things we can be sure of without needing our senses.
There are principles we learn from others we might not have experienced yet, that we can still believe to be true without knowing through our experience. Just like I have never seen Mars in person but believe it is there based on the report of others, I can come to trust in the principles of faith that make sense and have been handed down from Jesus to today. The best part is that my senses will come to be able to experience Him, but not always at first.
Descartes’ philosophy has destroyed the practice of trusting the principles of the faith, leading people to only depend upon their senses to determine what is real. Furthermore, it has made it more difficult to believe in a God who is and can do something beyond what one has ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong; it is possible to experience God and experience His tremendous miracles. However, this is beyond what many have come to know daily.
We must stop depending upon our experiences alone to determine what God will do in our lives. Our senses can observe a lot, but there is more. Relying on them alone to determine what God does in your life will limit you and arbitrarily limit God.
Instead, it is better to be open to the amazing possibilities of believing in an all-knowing, all-powerful God. Trust that He knows what to do and can do it. That is the principle of faith that we should have without needing experience.
God can do anything and knows what should be done. If you believe this, he will give you experiential knowledge of it. God will prove you right.
All things are possible
Step two of growing in your faith is believing all things are possible. You might hear, “all things are possible,” and question why something you wanted did not happen. It would be easy to conclude then that this statement is false. However, this statement only says that everything is possible with God, not that everything will happen.
We must believe that God can do something, that it is in His power. Our limits do not limit God, and He can do amazing things through us and our prayers. If we begin to doubt His power based on His decision not to follow our plans, we restrict His power and make Him less than He truly is.
To grow in faith, we must understand that nothing is impossible for God. He can do all things and makes only the best decisions. Trust Him. Make it a point to say daily, “God, I trust you and believe that you can do all things.”
It’s okay to not fully understand
An obstacle to faith takes shape when we look at God and the things He decides to do or not do, and, out of confusion or an inability to understand, we doubt Him. Yes, trying to understand things and validate what is difficult to comprehend is logical.
With God, there is a lot that makes sense. We have many arguments and logical proofs that point us to the reality of who He is. Furthermore, if you hang on to your faith in seeking Him, He will make Himself known to you. And still, we have plenty of reasonable reasons to have faith to allow us not to give up when we do not understand some aspects of God.
It is okay not to understand fully! Hang on; it will eventually make sense. The understanding is coming. However, it is just like when you sit in a dark room; it would be easier on your eyes if the lights were slowly made brighter than if someone just flicked them on. So too, is it better for the understanding of God to come slowly.
Pray, hope, and don’t worry
When you work on growing in your faith, you are already winning! Keep it up! Your best advice is to pray, hope, and not worry. Pray daily for what you need, stay with God in your heart and mind, and recall that He’s always with you. To hope means to believe God is taking care of you regardless of what is taking place in your life. Building off prayer and hope, we can remind ourselves that we do not need to worry as the God we pray to is real, and the power He has means that everything is taken care of.
If you are interested in growing in your faith and would like some guidance, we can help! At Zenith Ministries, we have been running a successful one-on-one mentorship program where we offer insight, real-life solutions, inner healing, and spiritual guidance to those who need it. Reach out today to receive a free consultation to see how we can help you overcome your struggles and enter the beautiful life you were meant for. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text at 404-333-8978. More info at www.zenithministries.com/mentorship.