How to Grow in Faith, Especially During this Pandemic
Walking in a life of faith, when walking itself can be difficult
Since this pandemic has started, most people are now staying at home and having a lot of free time or more flexible schedules. People could automatically think that now that they have free time, they can actually start reading the Bible and be more devoted to God. From personal experience, that statement couldn’t be even more wrong.
What I’ve come to realize in these past few months of the pandemic is that when people now have more time for themselves, their own thinking can get in the way. For example, for myself, I catch myself in deep thought, asking questions that seem to have no answer or end. Those questions could range from something surface-level such as “what do I cook today?” into deep questions, like “does God really exist? Why is He allowing such a pandemic to happen?”
Because of questions like these, it becomes hard to stand firm in the faith. After all, faith, by Google’s definition, is a “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” And how do you come to a complete trust in this “someone” or “something”? The next definition says that one is able to believe “…based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof,” meaning that one is able to believe based on feelings. Does that mean I just have to “feel something” in order to believe that God really is out there, watching out for me? Sixteen year old me would believe that, but now, I beg to differ.
So, how do we grow in faith, especially in moments of doubt? Rather than trying to feel something out there, and use that feeling as “proof” of God’s existence, I would like to try to see through scripture as to how God proves Himself to be existing, and in turn, be able to build a stronger faith in Him. After all, it says in Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing the message. So let’s look through scriptures to help us grow in our faith.
Look at the Bible
Simple, right? The reason why we have biblical questions in the first place is because there are gaps within our knowledge. In order to find biblical answers to our biblical questions, the best one to consult is the Bible. And when we open our Bibles and take a look, our perspectives have to change as well. It’s not just a text that we are reading, but it’s actually God whom we are listening to.
In Jn 1:1, it states that God is the word. So if we have questions about God, the best way to get to know Him is by asking Him directly. And the way He responds to us? Yes, it is through His word. Some people may think that the best way is through listening to different people’s faith walks or listening to podcasts. Although those are good sources, they are usually not the best. The reason why they are not the best is because God can be skewed according to different people’s perspective towards Him.
For example, a close friend of mine used to be a strong believer, but when she experienced first-hand a death of a loved one, that was when she decided to leave the faith because she couldn’t comprehend how God works. The words she shares to me now is how God is unfaithful and unfair, despite her faithful devotion to Him. Although she prayed and begged God everyday to heal her loved one, He did not answer. But, is that the complete picture of God?
Another example is when a friend of mine had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. He prayed, and thankfully, his loved one survived. And he shares to me how he is still thankful to God to this day for hearing his prayers. Is that a complete picture of God then?
So different people have different perspectives towards God, but the best way to get to know Him is by knowing Him directly through His word.
Grow in understanding of the Bible
Again, another simple concept, right? The more we read the Bible, the more we are supposed to understand, right? Again, coming from personal experience, that was not the case. I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation for over 3 times in a row. Although I would like to say that it was helpful, it did not lead me to a deeper understanding. You can’t just read the Bible, but you must understand it. The interesting thing is, understanding and faith is dependent on each other.
Mt 16:8-12 shows how little understanding leads to little faith, while more understanding leads to more faith. In this short scene, when the 12 misunderstood Jesus, they were quickly rebuked by him, saying that they had little faith. Because they had their own interpretation of what Jesus said, it led to them misunderstanding him. However, Jesus wants them to understand, so he explains what he said to them. And after receiving an explanation, they were able to understand, and as a result, they were able to continue on with a stronger faith walk with him.
In Jn 6:60, Jesus once again is teaching a hard lesson, which resulted in his disciples being unable to understand, and because it was of great difficulty, they decided to leave him instead. We could be this group of disciples, where when we do not understand, the easier route is to just give up and leave. After all, giving up requires less effort than trying to understand. Or, we could be the other group of disciples who chose to stick by him.
In verse 66-68, we see that the 12 disciples continue to hold onto him because they understood what Jesus was saying. Although in the past, they did not understand, they still stood by him and were hungry to learn. And to those who are hungry and constantly seeking, God promises to provide understanding to them (Jer 29:13). This shows that the more we understand, the more our faith can grow, and the more we can continue in our walk with Jesus.
So reading the bible is one thing, and understanding is another. How can we be sure that we are understanding Jesus and God for what they say, and not just interpreting or leaving when the teaching is hard to comprehend?
Join a bible study
Mt 18:20 states that if two or three are gathered, God will be together with them, giving them the understanding of scriptures. So the best way to grow in understanding is by gathering as believers together to deepen our knowledge of God’s word. We are called to be sheep-like believers, and a characteristic of sheep is that they gather in herds together, they do not do things on their own. Although theology programs can be costly (around $20,000 per year), the Word of God should be free of cost (Is 55:1-2). Like the saying goes, “the best things in life are free.” So join a Bible study today.