Faith is not a new or original idea in the Christian lifestyle. In fact, you’ve probably heard this word more than any other terminology. It may seem elementary to talk about but I was surprised to know so many Christ followers who couldn’t define faith within the confines of their personal relationship with The Father.

Faith: Complete trust/confidence in someone.

Synonyms are belief, dependence, creed, dogma, & reliance

There are many reasons why having faith is a foundational principle in discipleship but the root of the ‘why’ is found in Ephesians 2:8 where it says we’ve been saved by grace through faith. In a previous post we talked about what grace is. Grace is getting better than what we deserve from God. So, this verse is saying that we have been saved from the price of our sin (death) by putting our complete confidence in God who decided to save us even though we deserved to reap the repercussions of our sinful nature. When we receive the grace God gives us, we are to give him faith in exchange. This exchange is the foundation for what we as Christians believe because this is the reason Jesus died on the cross willingly.

Unlike grace, faith is meant to be practiced. There are levels to faith and it takes work on our part to be able to move to those levels. Think of faith as a plant. It grows and buds as long as its being fed and taken care of. If you do not take care of your plant it diminishes and shrinks for awhile before it finally dies.

Just like any good gardener, in order to be a good steward of your faith, you will need the proper tools. But instead of shovels, pruning shears, or rakes, you will need honesty, discipline, & self-restraint. This takes effort and you should expect to fail sometimes. Even the best athletes expect to have failure of some kind in their career. Failure looks different to all of us and when we experience it, it is easy to want to throw in the towel or change courses. Having faith does not mean you are void of doubt or troubling thoughts but it means that you continue to take a step toward what God has called you to do knowing that even if it doesn’t go the way you think it should that it will still turn out to benefit you.

All things that are long lasting takes time to mature, grow, and yield a high reward. (Galatians 6:9)

Keeping my faith strong has been a journey all its own. Every time I level up my faith, things come that try to cause me to turn away from the voice of God so here are a few steps I use to keep my faith plant going strong before and after disappointing times.

Step 1: Knowledge is Power
Know what God says about you (both in his Word and personally during prayer)
God has called you children and inheritors of the fortune of Abraham (this is a good starting point to find out what you should expect as a believer
Step 2: Practice
Unlike Allen Iverson you’ll need to practice gratitude when things are easy so when things get difficult you are in the habit of being gracious toward God
Step 3: Daily Habits
Get in the habit of randomly saying “Thank you God for your favor”, write down verses that make you think of the things in your life you’re thankful for. Rehearse them daily.
Being thankful will become apart of your lifestyle no matter the challenges and this will change the way you see your circumstances.
Step 4: Seek the Right Things in Hard Times
Seek God NOT understanding. You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why bad things happen to you or others.
Instead, seek to understand and process the emotions that come along with uncontrollable circumstances. Give those emotions to God in prayer and ask Him to help you deal with them in a positive way. (A Good therapist can also help this process)
Step 5: Remember
Remind yourself of the promises from step 1 even when you don’t believe them

These steps have helped me through countless struggles including grief, self-inflicted shame, breaking soul ties, and pursuing obedience. There are times where it feels like my faith plant isn’t growing or it is not strong. i assure you this is normal! Keep pushing yourself to lean on God wholeheartedly and He will sustain you until you can look back and realize that you’ve been brought out of your storm. Remember that before God sends a storm your way He has already put a time limit on it. It will pass but you have to keep going to get through. If you stop in the middle of your storm, you will STILL be in the storm. Failure is progress, complacency is NOT!