Growing Our Faith in God
The Bible is full of wonderful promises. It tells us that all shall be well for those of us who are righteous. It tells us to neither worry about the future nor fear sudden disasters. It tells us that God has great plans for our lives and that we believe He will answer our prayers. And it also tells us that God is fighting our battles, arranging things in our favour and making a way even when we don't see a way. Aren't those wonderful promises?
But the problem with most of us Christians is that we go through experiences in life that tend to destroy our faith in God and in His Word. We pray for our plans to materialize only for them to fail. We go through harrowing experiences that make us doubt whether we are worshipping a living God. We hear in the media of good people dying in accidents. We see friends who have less faith in God than us succeed in their endeavours while we are stagnating in our careers. Such kind of experiences and observations diminish our faith in God.
Personally, I know how it feels to believe so deeply in God only for my faith in Him to be shattered by the challenges of everyday living. Like early in the year 2008, I used to pray regularly that I get accepted at four top American colleges where I had applied for admission. I remember one night that time believing so deeply that God would answer my prayers as I gazed on a beautiful starry sky; I reasoned that the same God who made the stars and set them in place would also see me through to America for my undergraduate studies.
But come March and April 2008, I was crestfallen to receive rejection letters from all the four top American colleges. That April afternoon when I learnt I had been rejected by the college whose letter I read last, I felt like sleeping with a woman to relieve the depression that was welling up inside me.
Over the years since then, I have had recurring experiences of feeling so close to God at times and so abandoned by Him at other times. Truly, we are living in a fallen world with challenges that tend to puncture our faith in God. And we, as Christians, have a responsibility to nurture and grow our faith in God during our sojourn in this fallen world that is the Earth. The following are some of the ways I thought on how we can grow our faith in God:
- Reading the Bible regularly: As I have said, the Bible is full of wonderful promises. It's also full of enlightening words of wisdom. I suggest that you get into the habit of reading it regularly and highlight or underline the verses that speak to you. Commit some of the verses to memory and whisper them in your mind when confronted with situations in which they are relevant.
- Reflecting on God's faithfulness in the past: I don't know about you but for me, God has come through for me on numerous occasions in the past. He helped me get admitted at the prestigious Starehe Boys' Centre in 2002. And He kept me from sleeping with a woman that time in 2008 I have told you I got rejected by four top American colleges.. Thinking about all those divine interventions helps strengthen my faith in God.
- Meditating on nature and its wonders: I have come to believe that nature is a living proof that God exists. The blue oceans, the vast heavens, the ordered course of day and night, and the beauty in the changing seasons - surely, aren't these the works of an intelligent being? For me, that intelligent being is God, the Mighty One.
- Listening to hymns: There are many inspirational hymns covering such topics as gratitude, comfort in times of difficulty and the joys of trusting in God. I encourage you to listen to them and memorize the lyrics of the ones that touch you so that you can sing them when showering or commuting to work. They will help grow your faith.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on growing our faith in God, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Proof That God Exists". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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On Gossiping & Slandering
There is a wonderful old story I love. It's about Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher who was adored for his breadth and depth of knowledge. As the story goes, a young man went to Socrates one time and animatedly said, "Socrates, I have just heard some news about one of your friends!"
"Hold on a minute!" Socrates replied, "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say through three tests. The first is the test of Truthfulness. Have you made absolutely sure what you are about to tell me is true?"
After thinking for a moment, the young man replied, "I heard the news from someone else, so I am not 100% sure if it's true."
"The second is the test of Goodness," Socrates continued, "Is what you're about to tell me something good?"
"No, actually it's the opposite."
Socrates interrupted the young man, "So what you're going to tell me is neither true nor good?" The young man was slightly embarrassed and shrugged his shoulders.
But Socrates continued, "Hold on! You may still pass because there's one more test left - the test of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be of any use to me?"
"Probably not," the young man answered.
"Well," Socrates concluded, "If you are going to tell me something that's not true, good or useful, then why tell it to me at all?" The young man walked away feeling embarrassed.
I love that story because of the way it clearly brings out how people gossip and slander one another. Personally, I have read and heard negative comments about people I admire. Like one of my heroes was accused of murder, drug-trafficking and siring a child with a prostitute - charges which I think were false because I have come to know the hero as someone who loves people.
And given the way I have read and heard people slander my heroes, I wouldn't be surprised if some folks out there have been saying untrue and unkind words about me. We are living in a fallen world, I tell you.
When I talk of the possibility of people slandering me, I am reminded of one night in 2008 when I was at the university in JKUAT. That night, I struck a conversation with a pregnant lass in the university library. We had a short lively talk after which I offered to escort her to her room of residence. And when I went back to the university library, a friend of mine called Mulinge mischievously inquired from me how I had met the pregnant lass.
During that time I met the pregnant lass, I was hanging around the university without attending classes and communicating home. Some of my classmates were worried about me and wondering what was happening to me. Over the years, I have had a gnawing worry that the classmates who may have seen me escort the pregnant lass might have fanned rumours that I had not been attending classes after being led astray by a young woman who I had impregnated.
But the truth is - I had never met the pregnant lass before that night I befriended her in the university library. And I have never talked to her again since then. I only remember her as Gertrude who impressed me with her candour and friendliness.
We are living in a fallen world for shizzle. A world that is full of gossip and malicious slander that are as a result of idleness, jealousy and hatred. I therefore challenge you, my dear reader, to refrain from gossiping and slandering others. Tell stories that are true, good and useful - like the ones I post in this lovely blog of mine.
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