“Faith is not faith when it sees, wills, and gets what it wants; it is not the same as self-confidence, natural optimism, or positive thinking.” Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life
Psalm 40 provides five ingredients to walk by faith in any of life’s storms. In a fallen world, we face pain, loss, and tragedy. A walk of faith is most clearly seen when circumstances are most grim. Sight alone will lead you astray. Here are five faith-infused ingredients in a recipe for resiliency during loss.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1
1. Wait patiently and expectantly for the Lord.
If we’re going to endure hardship, we have to settle something. We have to doggedly believe—stand firm. If we are unswerving in our belief, we will be content to wait out any storm. When you know the outcome—the ultimate outcome—you can relax.
“Never be tempted to give up your hold upon your only strength, upon your solitary hope.” Charles H. Spurgeon, The Power of Prayer
Whatever your trial—be it loss, injury, illness, abuse, disarray, or worldwide chaos—resiliency comes from waiting in patience and waiting with expectancy that God hears and inclines to our cries for him.
“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” Psalm 40:4
2. Turn to the Lord and put your trust in him.
While patient resiliency may be the context, sufferers must be adept in the repeated disciplines of turning and trusting. Let me underscore the word discipline. Walking by faith in a world of sight requires proactive resistance against lies and the proud. Be warned! It may be easier to turn to someone who is present, right before you. Do not turn to the proud no matter how confident. If we are going to be resilient, we must resist the lies of the proud and turn to the Lord and repeatedly place our trust in him.
“In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” Psalm 40:6
3. Open your ears and learn from him.
Spurgeon has said, “You may not know why he deals with you so strangely, but never think that he is unfaithful for an instant.” In fact, during trials, the faithfulness of the Lord can be seen with much more clarity. Our need is higher. Our experience is deeper. Any experience of difficulty is a moment when we need to open our ears. We can learn more and take giant steps in our spiritual lives. We can learn—academically but also experientially—the things of God in much more concrete ways than at any other time. We can agree with the psalmist, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way…” (Psalm 37:23).
“I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.” Psalm 40:9
4. Testify of glad news from within your trial.
Peter tells us we are to be “…prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15). There’s no better time to testify to the truth of the goodness of the Lord than from inside your suffering. If you’re facing a trial of any kind, consider it a platform or a stage from which to give testimony of Christ. The presence of Jesus—and the confidence, expectancy, trust, or lessons he brings—are indeed glad news elevated over any earthly pain or even over any earthly bliss.
“As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” Psalm 40:11
5. Stand in an already-but-not-yet faith-filled confidence.
He will not restrain his mercy. He will preserve you by his steadfast love and faithfulness. His promises are secure. Stand firm. Refuse to falter. If you waver, quickly establish your footing, firm upon his foundation. If we walk by sight, we lose this already-but-not-yet kind of confidence. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He delivers steadfast love.
Be resilient. In any trial, wait patiently, turn to him, open your ears, testify to his goodness, and stand firm.
“In the unfolding of His providence, burdens become blessings, tears lead to triumph, and the redemptive grace of God overcomes the undercurrents of life in the experiences of His children.” Robert. J. Morgan, The Red Sea Rules