Three Items in My Treasure Chest

October 10, 2010

by Maria Fontaine

Audio length: 9:44

Download Audio (7.5MB)

(You may need to right-click the above links and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" to download videos and audios to your computer.)

Someone said to me the other day, “What people need most in times of difficulty and turmoil is faith—faith to know that everything is going to be all right.” I certainly agree. But if what we need most is faith, how can we define that elusive element? What is faith and how do you get it? Faith is intangible; it can’t be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled. Yet we sense it in the spirit. Faith is a belief that the Lord will bring good out of a situation, regardless of what the circumstances are.

Even if we don’t understand exactly what faith is, if it’s what we need in order to make our lives better and happier, how can we get it? We know that the Lord’s words—which we’ve received a lot of through the years—strengthen our faith, but sometimes we still feel we don’t have enough faith or we don’t see how it’s working for us. How can we apply all that the Lord has given us in a way that will be practical and will help us weather our personal storms?

I asked myself, What keeps me steady in times of crisis? What keeps me on course and from giving up and saying, “I don’t want to keep trying to make spiritual progress anymore,” “I don’t want to have to give so much,” “I don’t want to care about people anymore,” “I don’t want my heart broken anymore,” “This responsibility is too big for me to keep carrying.”

What keeps me from doubting God’s promises, when all of my faults and failures hang heavily over me like a black cloud, and my feelings threaten to overwhelm me? When so much is changing and I don’t know if I can cope, what keeps me still believing that the difficult things will “come to pass”? If the answer is faith, how does it work? What do I do to have faith? And then what does that faith do for me? What do I do and think that enables me to rise above difficulties and problems? What are the things I do that make my faith strong?

I pondered these personal questions and came up with a list. In this article I’m going to talk about the first three points on the list, and then in a few articles that follow, I’ll talk about the rest of the points. I don’t consider this a to-do list. These are not things that I feel pressured to do and to check off one by one until I get them all done. These are practices and principles that I’ve made a part of my life over the years. Some have become habitual and others I have to consciously think about. But each helps me in some way when I take advantage of them. It’s like a treasure bag or chest that I can dip into when I need it.

Here are the first three:

Number one: Reminding myself of God’s promises. If faith is believing God, what am I believing Him for? In general, it’s that things are going to eventually turn out all right in whatever situation I’m in. But what specifically am I believing? I’m usually believing something He has said, some of His promises, whichever ones fit my particular situation at the time, or whichever ones speak to me most powerfully. He has given many promises in the Bible and in His living words for today. Let’s go to the Bible for a few examples. These are promises I committed to memory many years ago that have always stood firm.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.[1]

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.[2]

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.[3]

My faith in God’s promises has strengthened me thus far and has brought me through many difficulties. I feel like I have every reason to keep trusting the Lord, especially in trying times, because He hasn’t failed me in the past. He has always pulled me through and has eventually answered my questions, or given me peace, or healed my body, or directed my path.

I know He’s not going to go back on His word; He says so. It doesn’t matter what my circumstances are, I choose to put my trust in Him, to believe—and keep believing—that He has the power to change things.

There hath not failed one word of all His good promise.[4]

Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?[5]

The second point is this. I’ve found from experience—both my own and that of others—that the tough things I experience help me to 1) understand others and what they go through; 2) be more relatable to others; and 3) gain valuable resources with which I am able to help others. These are positive results that I can be happy for. Hearing me say that, you might ask, “Well, why do we have to sacrifice for others?” I guess we each have to decide that for ourselves—to decide if we’re willing to do that. When I look around and see how few God has who are willing to be His love to others, I realize that He probably feels He needs all of us desperately. But it’s our choice.

The wealth of spiritual knowledge that I’ve gained through difficulties and can now share with others is a treasure—one that can change someone’s heart and spirit and give them purpose and satisfaction and hope.—To say nothing of the satisfaction that it gives me. There is an inborn need within each person to accomplish something useful for their fellow man, to do something that gives meaning to their life, and I’m glad that I can serve others in this way.

And here’s the third point. This is another thing that keeps me stable and continuing “in the faith, grounded and settled,” as Paul put it in Colossians 1:23. I know from experience that the feelings of turbulence and sadness will eventually come to an end. So I just try to be brave and keep going and keep trying to make it easier for others, even when I don’t feel so great myself.

Thomas à Kempis is quoted as saying, “There is no means of escaping from tribulation and sorrow except to bear them patiently.”[6]

Someone rather humorously said that things in life may feel turbulent and you may not feel like holding on, but have you considered the alternative?

Certainly the Bible admonishes us to wait and be patient, promising that we will receive the reward of that endurance. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”[7] And “…you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.”[8]

The Bible also says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”[9] Aside from the beautiful promise for the future in this verse, it says “sufferings of this present time”—an encouraging promise and reminder that these sufferings are not forever.

Even if there were no rewards for endurance, I still would not want to give up. I love having treasures to pass on to others. I can’t think of anything in the whole wide world that is more satisfying and fulfilling. Sure, gaining those treasures comes with a price, and sometimes I feel that it’s too hard, but I know that the trials are temporary, and that if I persevere, I’m going to have the continued reward of helping to bring about lasting, wonderful change in the lives of others.

[1] Psalm 34:19.

[2] 1 Corinthians 10:13.

[3] Psalm 55:22.

[4] 1 Kings 8:56b.

[5] Numbers 23:19.

[6] German monk and religious writer (1379?–1471) in The Imitation of Christ.

[7] Isaiah 40:31.

[8] Hebrews 10:36.

[9] Romans 8:18.