(Written by Leo De Siqueira on November 10, 2012. Here is the original link to this article.)
Keys to Great Faith During Trials and Hard Times
(Written by Leo De Siqueira – REVOLUTION ERA)
This is something that I share with you not as theory, but as Epignosis: intimate, personal, experiential knowledge. God’s been speaking to me about these things and has helped me to begin to apply them in my daily life. What I want to share with you comes straight from my heart.
We all face challenging circumstances and go through seasons of great difficulty. Be it financial lack, or the infirmity of a loved one, or persecutions, we have all dealt with hardships in one way or another. God has shed some light in my life as to what we can do to overcome the following:
These are all interlinked, and often create a domino effect in our hearts and minds that can send us into despair. God has not called us to live under such things, but has called us to freedom from them.
Please understand that I am not speaking as if I have it all figured out. I DON’T. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned on my journey up to now.
What I would like to do is lead you through some Scriptures in the same way He led me and share what He highlighted for me. And I believe that the Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you in all truth, and add to these things as well.
God led me to two accounts in the Gospels where the disciples were in life threatening situations. The symbolism is huge: The terrors of a raging sea, a sinking boat, a miracle, and key lessons from our Brother Jesus. Let’s begin.
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful (δειλός deilos – timid, cowardly, dreading)? How is it that you have no faith (οὐ πίστις ou pistis – not faith)?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-41
There was a legitimate reason here for the disciples to be in fear and despair. Drowning has got to be one of the worst ways to die. Without Christ, they literally had no hope of living. However, what does Jesus demonstrate here?
- He was asleep, which means he was at rest and at peace DURING this terrifying event. This was one of the keys that God highlighted to me – That we can be at peace and at rest in the midst of the storm (see Matt 11:25-30; Heb 4:1-11).
- Their hope was tied to their boat. Therefore, as the boat sank, so did their hope. Where is your hope during your trial? Is it your savings account? Your doctor? Your credit rating? Your parents? Your employer? Anyone of these can let you down. Why was Jesus at rest? Because his hope was NOT in the boat, but in God. I say this not because it sounds nice, but because we need to grasp this and live by it.
- Fear leads to unbelief. I will expand on this later, but what God began to highlight to me is that we can become fearful because of what we see. And fear is the virus that infects our faith and causes it to dissolve until we no longer have any faith for the situation we are in.
- I believe that Jesus was modeling for his followers what they can do as well. I believe that it was possible for the disciples to calm the storm themselves. It is possible that Jesus did NOT rebuke the disciples for their lack of faith in Him, but for their lack of faith for a miracle. Almost every other account we have of Jesus rebuking them for lack of faith, it was for something they were able to do as well. (See Mat 17:20; Mt 21:21; Mk 11:23; Lk 17:6; Jn 14:12-14; see also Luke 7:1-10 and Acts 3:6 for what great faith looks like = understanding our identity and authority)
I’m learning that if we see past the circumstance so we are not afraid or intimidated and live from the place of our true identity in Christ, we exponentially increase our chances for a miracle.
Now let’s move onto the next passage. Again we see the same symbolism here: The terrors of a raging sea, a sinking boat, a miracle, and key lessons from our Brother Jesus.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good courage (θαρσέω tharseō – courage, confidence)! It is I; do not be afraid (φοβέω phobeō – put to flight, fear, dread).”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid (φοβέω phobeō); and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστος oligopistos – little of faith), why did you doubt (διστάζω distazō – doubt, waiver)?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33
The disciples were again in peril. And again their problem was legitimate. However, God has called us to live beyond the point of fear even in the face of great trials and adversity. So what did I take from this?
- Jesus gave them three keys: i) Have courage; ii) Focus on Him; iii) Do not fear. This seems very similar to the command God gave to Joshua:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
- If the raging waters are symbolic of affliction and trials, than Jesus’ walking over them is symbolic of the fact that not only can he trample over them and rise above them, but as Peter demonstrated, so can we.
- “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them” – The fourth watch is between 3am and 6am, meaning they had been at sea anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Yet it was at the darkest time of night (just before dawn) and at the last possible moment that Jesus came. A good friend of mine has said to me (based on his many experiences with supernatural breakthrough and provision) that God is the God of the 23rd hour. I have certainly found this to be true in many instances in my life. I don’t understand why. It’s frustrating at times to think about. But, if we keep our eyes on Him and His Kingdom in our itinerary He does eventually come through.
- I truly believe that if Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit at this point in time then he would have walked all the way to the shore with Jesus. Why did Peter sink into the turmoil and hardship of the sea once again? Because he allowed what he saw to bring about fear. And Jesus highlight that that fear cause Peter to have little faith.
Then God led me to some other passages to reiterate some of the same points mentioned above. Consider this for example:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting (διακρίνω diakrinō – lit., “to separate throughout or wholly” (dia, “asunder,” krino, “to judge,” from a root kri–, meaning “separation”; to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt), for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; a double-minded (δίψυχος dipsychos – two souled, wavering, divided interest) man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8
I found it amazing that James would say that to doubt is to be like “a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind”. Both the stories we read about Jesus calming the storm and Peter walking on water were symbolic in the fact that they took place in a turbulent sea. And now we see that the disciples were in a state of doubt and unbelief as they were literally driven and tossed by the winds and the waves.
Next, God took me to Matthew 17:
And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless (ἄπιστος apistos – anti-faith) and distorted (διαστρέφω diastrephō – turned aside, distorted) generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief (ἀπιστία apistia – anti-faith); for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:14-20
So why were the disciples in a state of completely lacking faith? After all, in Matthew 10 we see that the disciples had been healing people and casting out demons. So what happened here? I believe that it was because of what they SAW.
Let’s read the description again. “He is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.” Imagine seeing someone convulsing and twitching in front of you severely as you begin to pray for them to be healed. We know that sometimes we need to pray for a few minutes before we start to see results.
So what happens? Well, if we DON’T allow what we see to affect us then we abide in faith. But if we DO allow what we see to affect us, then more often than not we begin to fear (fear that they won’t get healed, fear or ridicule, fear of failure, fear of man, etc.), which leads to doubting, which leads to unbelief or loss of all faith for the situation.
Jesus made it clear that they were capable of healing the boy. “I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” But this situation was impossible for them because they were in a state of no faith, and their thoughts were turned aside from God and their perspective was distorted (see v. 14).
Jesus uses a similar analogy in Mark 11 to the one we just read in Matthew 17:20.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt (διακρίνω diakrinō – lit., “to separate throughout or wholly” (dia, “asunder,” krino, “to judge,” from a root kri–, meaning “separation”; to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt) in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:20-24
Jesus begins by telling us to have faith in God. The rest of the passage then describes what faith in God looks like:
- Jesus links asking/praying, and us giving a command, together. In other words, commanding a mountain to move is seen as praying and asking God, even though we are speaking to the mountain.
- When we give a command (like, “be healed”, “demon leave”, “provision come”, “family strife cease at once”, etc.), we must be convinced that the things we say will be done.
- In the midst of trials, raging seas, or mountains, “whatever things you ask (and command) when you pray, believe that you receive them (and that what you are saying will be done), and you will have them.”
So now that we have explored all these various passages, how do we link things together and make sense of it all? Well, let me share some of the key points that our Father put in my heart as I mediated over these things.
Fear: The Root of All Unbelief
I don’t believe that fear is simply an emotion. I believe that it is a spirit as well. Fear is linked with other emotions and spirits like worry, anxiety, stress, despair, hopelessness and cowardice. What God showed me is that fear is the trigger for doubt, which leads to the deflating of one’s faith. Therefore, if we can conquer fear, we can maintain faith.
So how do we resist fear and keep it at bay?
1. We realize that we are children of God and that His Spirit abides in us. We realize our birthright, our sonship, our authority, our dominion. We realize that we have been sent on a mission to set captives free, to trample on snakes and scorpions.
[When] I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God [which is the Holy Spirit] which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:5-7
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God… Romans 8:12-16
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21
2. We cannot allow what we see in the natural to affect us. We need to see past the trial and circumstance and focus on Him. At all times Jesus Christ must be who we have our heart set on. When Peter had his eyes on Jesus he was able to walk upon the raging waters. What we see or feel doesn’t determine what is true. Our eyes and our emotions will deceive and betray us.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7
“[God] gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; [Consider Abraham] who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Rom 4:17-22
3. We practice abiding in the rest and peace of Jesus Christ. Our focus and attention must be on Him at all times.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. Isaiah 26:3-4
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:8-11
4. Command fear to leave you and your home. Not every thought or emotion you have is yours. Therefore, if it doesn’t line up with what comes from God (life, love, joy, peace, health, etc.) or what God says about you (you are strong, faithful, loved, bold, victorious, at peace, at rest, etc.), then take it captive and command it to go. The battle is in your mind. Fear can and will dominate you if you don’t resist it. Then all your thoughts, emotions, and actions will be fear-driven and not faith-driven. Satan will try to control you through fear. Resist him, and he will flee.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Cor 10:4-5
5. Let your boat sink. Anything you put your hope, identity, trust, confidence, and security in that IS NOT Jesus Christ will sink with you in it. Jesus slept in the boat because his hope was not in the boat, but in God. If your health is failing then don’t put your hope in the doctor. If creditors are calling and you can’t pay them then don’t let your identity and security be wrapped up in your financial circumstance. If you are trying to find work and can’t then don’t let your self-worth be wrapped up in that situation.
What is your boat? Are you afraid of losing control over something? Let it go: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-2
Our confidence, our hope, our security, and our identity MUST at all times, in all circumstance, be fully in Jesus Christ. WE must always realize that we are his God’s children, made in his image, filled with His Spirit. We must look beyond the circumstance and see Him and believe that He will see us through in due time, one way or another.
Any time you begin to doubt, worry, or feel anxious, more often than not it is because fear has set in. This is why we must be vigilant against it. In both the Old Testament and the New we see God has placed a great emphasis on this:
Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous…
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-7, 9
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Matthew 6:31-34
With fear, doubt, worry, and unbelief under our feet, we can now focus on Christ as we rest in him and stay at peace in him. Of course, we cannot dismiss the fact that we are still facing a trial. It would be foolish to not acknowledge it, since we have no record of Jesus doing such a thing. In fact, he both acknowledged the problem and provided the solution in every miracle performed.
So how do we deal with the hardship we may be facing?
1. “Whatever things you ask (and command) when you pray, believe that you receive them (and that what you are saying will be done), and you will have them.” Mark 11:24
Our words have the power of life and death. We must put them to use. Start speaking to mountains (sickness, debt, unemployment, persecution, family disputes, etc.) and command them to leave. Do this several times a day, every day, until it happens. I’m not saying to not ask God for things. You certainly must. But just understand that you have a role to play, and that many times He will move through you instead of for you.
2. “[God] gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” Rom 4:17. You need to see in the eyes of your heart (Eph 1:18) that which you are calling forth before it materializes. In other words, you need to visualize what you need. If it’s a job, see yourself working there. If it’s healing, see the person healed. If it’s money, see the cheque in your hand with the amount needed. As we pray and meditate in the Spirit, we can stir up our imagination so as to see the victory and breakthrough we need. Because God is in our thoughts, we can dialogue with Him and thank Him as though you have already received what you see in your mind.
Our dreams and thoughts are extremely significant. Consider the following: God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through visions and dreams. God made his covenant with Solomon in a dream. God confirmed to Peter that the Gospel was for both Jew and Gentile in a daydream. And check out Jacob’s story in Genesis 30:25-43 to see how the concept of visualization and imagination played out in his life.
3. Given thanks for the breakthrough; see and feel yourself in possession of it in your thoughts and dreams. Praise God for the victory, celebrate it. We must learn to pray from a place of victory, from heaven towards earth, instead of hopelessness and defeat as we strive from earth towards heaven.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
Why would Paul add “thanksgiving”? Because we must be convinced that we will receive that which we need. When you say thank you, it’s because you have it – even if you didn’t see it yet. Look at these examples:
“[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” Rom 4:20-21
“Whatever things you ask (and command) when you pray, believe that you have receive them (and that what you are saying will be done), and you will have them.” Mark 11:24
This is not easy. But it can be learned and developed over time.
4. Repeat points 1 through 3. I’m not being sarcastic. In fact, consistency is what I believe to be one of the great factors in determining whether or not we see breakthrough. It is easy to do this for a few days or weeks – but what about months or years? Keep speaking to the situation and asking God to help, keep seeing what you need and imagine yourself in possession of it, and give thanks everyday as though you already received it.
I write this during one of the greatest trials in my life. There are days when bad news hits and all I want to do is throw in the towel or curl up in a ball and cry. But thankfully Christ has helped me learn to submit my emotions to the Spirit. And once I do I start to see clearer. This usually happens when I pull away from the situation and lock myself in my office, room, or bathroom.
That gives me the space I need to focus on Christ. I fix my attention on His presence and I begin to thank Him for anything I can think of – That I have freedom of worship; that I live in a land of opportunity; that we are not at war; that I have a wonderful wife and children; that I know Him; that He chose to be slain before time began; that we are well fed and have decent clothes; that I have a vehicle; that I am healthy; that we are not at risk of persecution; etc. Then I begin to pray for others, especially those in need. And I begin to ask God what it is that I can do for Him today; how can I advance His kingdom today.
I find it especially important to have access to testimonies of people who have experienced breakthrough in the area you have need in. If it is healing, or financial provision, or the conversion of a loved one, etc., get a hold of it. I have audio files and YouTube clips of testimonies specific to my need on hand, and usually watch/listen every couple days (sometimes several times in one day if I am especially down) in order to remind myself of the fact that God does come through. It doesn’t matter that you’ve heard it already once or twice. The testimony stimulates your faith and will resonate with the Spirit of God in you. This helps keep your tank full so that you can keep moving forward in steadfastness.
Sometimes the miracle we need comes by decree and command. Other times it comes in seasons and at the 23rd hour. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the way it is. Maybe that will change as we gain further insight and revelation into the things of the Kingdom. But for now, this is all I have to share.
That’s it. I tried to be as brief as possible. Read over the Scriptures and allow the Spirit of God to lead you into more truth and revelation. I don’t have it figured out. I’m just a guy in the trenches talking about what it’s been like, what’s worked, and what hasn’t.
May God give you hope and strength during your time of hardships. And I ask that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:-7