Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Some weeks back we had, in all honesty, come to a very difficult phase in parenting one of our children. We were seeing some behaviors come out that had been conquered years before. We were seeing fears, attitudes, and regression that we had not witnessed in such a long time. This was not only discouraging- it was terrifying for me as a mother.
I temporarily doubted. I wondered where we had gone wrong. I questioned all of the things we had been doing as parents. I questioned all of our tactics, all of our ways of leading. I questioned what we had been doing with our time.
It hurt. My heart hurt, because I know how far we’ve come. I just didn’t understand.
We are not your average run-of-the-mill family in a lot of ways- and in a lot of other ways we probably are. We like to have fun. We like to be silly. We like movie nights, soccer, candy, and friends. We like to travel and camp and experience other cultures. We enjoy the mountains and we enjoy the beach. In some other ways, maybe we are not so average. We happen to be a large family with a mix of adoptive and biological kids. We have seven kids- and they have seriously been the greatest adventure, biggest delight, and largest challenge of our lives. Maybe by some standards we wouldn’t be considered a large family, except that we have chosen to adopt several children, and that has significantly grown our family population. 😉 (And no- we are most likely not done. Why would we quit on one the greatest treasures of our lives?!)
But as a whole we are believing God for victory for each of our children in so many areas. We are trusting God for way more than average in our kids. All of them. Because of the backgrounds of several of our kids, they have some pretty huge obstacles to overcome mentally, physically, and emotionally- but we believe nothing less than God’s wonderful, abundant life for them.
There are promises God alone has whispered to my heart in quiet moments about each one of our children specifically. These things are not anything I take lightly. They are written on my heart as fact. I will believe nothing less than seeing the fulfillment of each one of these beautiful things in the lives of my sons and daughters.
But when we came into such a difficult phase with one of our children recently, the things I was seeing come forward were in direct opposition of what I knew to be God’s promise over my child’s life.
But seriously, if I were to believe for one minute that there was not going to be any faith battle to see the beautiful promises of God fulfilled in my life, in my family and in my children, I’d be a fool. People don’t happen into victory. They set their faces like flint towards it. They determine themselves to trust God above anything they see and they ride out the storm holding steadfast to the living promises of God. As God’s word says:
And my righteous ones will live by faith. -Hebrews 10:38
For there to be faith, there has to be opposition or trial. Always. For so-called faith, where there is no need to believe wouldn’t be called faith- it would be called reality; what I already physically see before me. There is scarcely an example in scripture of a person withstanding no opposition after receiving direction from God. After the word or instruction, usually comes the test. Or sometimes the trial precedes the word, but there will always, always, always be a time or season where we have to rely on that promise or word when things are physically in opposition of it. Amazingly, our faith must be tested for us to grow. How could we encourage others to fight the good fight of faith if we had never fought in the battle one minute ourselves? If I received no opposition in my stance to believe God’s word and instructions, I would really wonder if the instruction or word was from God. Satan desires to do little more than kill, steal and destroy- and when we as believers find ourselves on the brink of any of these points of desperation it is always directly relational to whether we have given up hope and are believing what we see above what God has clearly said.
A few weeks ago I saw this:
I immediately knew that it was for my child, who was struggling in a few areas. I thought on it over and over.
I asked myself, “How can I change the environment surrounding my child in such a way that they come out of this phase and begin to flourish again?”
One night a couple of weeks later I randomly clicked on a sermon clip from a pastor (Bill Johnson) I listen to on occasion. The pastor explained how his church had a 24 hour worship and prayer ministry. In their church, there is an area where someone is always worshiping or praying. He then went on to explain that during one year, his wife had an office in that part of the church. His wife loves plants and she had a plant in her office that typically always bloomed in January every year. But after one year of her office being in the part of the church where there was constant worship and prayer, they noticed something astounding. The plant had bloomed for an entire year. And as long as her office was in that part of the building, the plant bloomed. God certainly still does miraculous things, much bigger than causing a plant to bloom all year long to show us what can happen in an environment of faith.
It wasn’t until a couple of days later when I went for a run one morning, that God overwhelmed me with the answers to so many of my questions. I ran and prayed for my child, who I wanted to see walking in progress and growth. I thought once again about how I could change the environment that I provide for my child. It was in that moment that the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me to tears, as I ran down the road. I knew what Jesus was sweetly whispering to my heart.
My child, in their struggles, needed a consistent environment of faith surrounding them.
Not just a faith that everything was going to turn out okay in the end. Not just a faith that this was a passing stage. No. A radical faith that was willing, in every difficult circumstance each day, to rise up and confess God’s word over my child’s life. A faith that would look into the face of everything that screamed the opposite of what I knew God had said, and trust it above what I could very easily see before me.
I just have to testify to you today. I cannot begin to express to you the change that has happened in the life of this specific child of mine since this change came about in my own heart and home. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God before- it’s just that many times my words didn’t agree, which is a good clue to the heart’s condition. In discussing the problems I was facing with my child, I was constantly reverting to what I could see…way more than what I knew God had promised. I was emotionally falling beneath the waves of each struggle, rather than rising up and driving the situation, in faith, towards the assured victory found in the promises of God.
Another thing that became very apparent during that season of struggle, is the sensitivity of children to environments of faith and environments of unbelief. Undeniably, during this season of a battle of faith for my child, when we were in an environment where other people obviously believe God’s promises over our children- we saw progress. When we stepped into an environment of unbelief, an environment where others were obviously looking to point out issues and insist on capitalizing on them rather than seeing God working in the situation- we, like clock-work, saw the opposite reaction out of our struggling child. Those with adoptive children may find this to be especially true- as it a severe necessity to surround yourself and your children with people and situations who continue to believe the best. After all, isn’t that one of the definitions of love (1 Corinthians 13)?
I don’t know about you, but I love my children enough to hope the best for them. I believe what God has spoken over them- and I will lay my life down to see them walk forward in victory. Period.
This season of learning about faith has seriously got my wheels spinning in new ways. How many other areas in my life need an environmental change? How many areas are just waiting to blossom, if only I will not bow emotionally to each opposition and trial…but will rise up and drive the situation intentionally towards victory, simply by believing God above what I see?