What does it mean to have faith — and why is it so important?
Whether this is your first or four-thousandth day as a Christian, or you aren’t sure you really want to be a Christian yet, you’ve probably heard of this thing Christians call “faith.” What you might not be sure of is why it’s such a big deal.
You’ll hear people talk about it when things are good: “I knew things would turn around if I just had faith!”
You’ll hear people recommend it when they’re not sure what to say: “I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time. Just have faith.”
And, when others seem unfazed by life’s obstacles, they might tell you it’s because they “have faith.”
But what does that mean?
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Faith is the result of believing the Gospel — the good news that Jesus died for our sin and made a way for us to be right with God and spend eternity in heaven. When we allow the reality of the Gospel to affect every part of our lives, it changes the way we think which changes how we behave.
Faith causes us to act on what we haven't experienced yet, to believe promises in the Bible that haven't been fulfilled yet, and to trust God when our situations haven't changed yet.
3 Ways Faith Changes Your Life Practically
1. Faith in God gives you strength.
When I say strength, I don’t mean a physical strength to fight bullies. I mean the inner resolve to withstand turmoil.
Faith gives you strength: the inner resolve to withstand turmoil.
The writer of Psalm 138 says of God, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” When we are right with God, we never go into turmoil alone. We have the Creator of the Universe on our side.
For example, take David and the story of how he killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17). At the time, David was a shepherd boy, not a warrior. But when he saw Goliath mocking God's people, David approached the king and asked to go down and fight. Picture the babysitter next door or the kid who delivers your papers telling the President, "Let me handle this one."
David's ability to not be shaken by Goliath's size or insults was the result of David's faith in God. David tells the king, "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:37). David had faith that God would defeat the giant and deliver His people, so David to stood up to the king and then to the giant.
2. Faith in God gives you courage.
Courage and strength aren’t the same things, even though they are often seen together. Courage is the ability to do what scares us, to act on our beliefs despite threats of danger, to show strength in face of grief or pain. Courage, like strength, comes directly from our faith in God. Our confidence that heaven is real will directly affect the risks we're willing to take. If death is the worst thing that can happen to someone, how do you hurt the person who believes there is a better life waiting after this one?
Esther is a good example of a woman whose faith made her courageous. She was in constant danger not because of what she was doing, but simply because of who she was — a Jew. At a politically tumultuous time, Esther navigated tricky waters well and delivered the Israelites from an evil man’s bitter vendetta. But it took courage to stay. Check out Esther 7 to see how she endured the schemes of her enemy and gained favor with the king to save her people.
3. Faith in God provides stability.
Have you ever met someone who seem unshakable? The coworker who takes a deep breath when the computer crashes instead of slamming her head on the desk. The mom who manages to keep her calm as her kids' last minute requests pile up.
We all want to persevere through the day without melting down or throwing a tantrum (despite how we feel at times). Faith in God is what allows us to experience stability in the middle of instability. When life feels out of control, we take comfort in knowing that God is in control.
In the Bible, Daniel’s life provides several examples of stability in the face of instability. Daniel and many other Israelites were kidnapped and forced to join the Babylonian king’s service. This meant new food, new clothes, new language, new customs, and new everything. But even though Daniel was a hostage, he stayed true to what he knew about God. He wouldn’t eat the things that God had told the Israelites not to eat, and God blessed him for it (Daniel 1:1-8).
Daniel was eventually promoted into the king’s royal court, where some people didn’t like his worship of God instead of the king. Government officials tried to pin something on Daniel, but “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:4). They plotted against him, but Daniel stayed true to God, “just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).
Faith can do a lot of things in your life if you let it. It will grow you and allow you to do things you never thought yourself capable of. It will turn you into a dreamer who really believes that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). What next step can you take in faith today?