Good times and bad – which is the greater test of your faith?

December 8, 2015

When tragedy strikes or the unexpected bad things in life occur, people often say that it’s a test of the faith of the person to whom it has happened. It is certainly true that bad things that cause pain and suffering and sadness tend to bring one’s faith to the top of mind. For some it is a time of questioning that faith. How could God let this bad thing happen? girl cryingWhat was God’s purpose behind taking someone that we loved away from us? Why is this happening to me? Where are you God?

Do hard times or tragic events test our faith? Maybe; or maybe it strengthens our faith. Maybe we find that the only comfort that we can find during those times is found by turning to God and seeking the strength that we need to get through it all. For many, tragedies become defining moments for their faith. They turn to God because there is nowhere else to turn that makes any sense or offers any comfort.

But what of the good times; the day-to-day regular times in our lives where we are not facing some unexpected adversity or tragedy? For many the good times may actually pose a greater threat to and test of their faith. Complacency is a far bigger challenge to our faith than adversity. When everything is good, we tend to lose focus upon faith. We may not spend prayingtime praying or asking for help. We may not spend any time reading the Bible or thanking God for what he is giving us on a daily basis. Our prayers8 at meal times or at bed time may become perfunctory recitals of memorized words with little thought or meaning behind them.  The Devil lurks in the shadow of complacency and lures us away with the promised rewards of the good times. It is easy to wander away from God during the good times.

So I would submit that the good times are the greater test of one’s faith, just as doing the right thing day-in and day-out it is the greater test of one’s character than how one reacts to the unexpected adversity. Emergencies and tragedies both serve to focus us and our character and faith carry us through both; but, becoming complacent and ambivalent about things leads us to start taking things for granted or forgetting to be thankful for the peace that we might be experiencing.

The counter to complacency is the practice of good faith habits – setting bibleaside some time for daily prayer, or perhaps to read the Bible. It involves making a daily effort to acknowledge God’s role in our lives and to give thanks for the things that we have and for the lack of hardship or suffering or loss that God has blessed us with. There will be time enough to call upon our faith during dark periods; but we must also stay focused during the good times, so that we keep our faith strong and at the ready. There is a saying about character from J.C. Watts that I like – “Character is doing the right things when no one is looking.”

I think our everyday faith is much the same and I might be phrshield of faithase it this way – “Faith is living like you believe in God, even when there is no emergency.”

So, face the daily test of your faith by developing some good faith habits. Don’t just call on God for help in emergencies. Call on Him every day, maybe just to say thanks. Here’s hoping that you pass the faith test today. Keep the faith!

Did your resolutions turn into good habits?

March 6, 2015

“Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as bad habits.”  (Robert Fuller)

I saw a story on the local news last night that today is the watershed day for New Years Resolutions. Apparently there is evidence that if one can keep doing something for 66 days straight it will have established itself as a habit and today (Mar 6) is day 66 for happy winner2015. So, if you’ve managed to do every day whatever it is that you promised yourself that you would do for 2015; congratulations you’ve formed a new habit (hopefully a good one).

The most often reported New Year’s Resolutions seem to be about losing weight, quitting a bad habit (like smoking) or getting more exercise. Those resolutions are all tough to stick with for most people, so if you did it and stuck with any of them; good for you.  For me I was resolved to be a regular at the gym this year. I just can’t go every day, but I was on the list of the top 15 gym attendees at the Milford Anytime Fitness for the first month and just barely out off the list in February, when I took a week off for vacation. I think I have this down to a habit, but I’ll keep tracking it to make sure.

There was a story in today’s Detroit papers about a new young catcher who is expected
baseball catcherto become the backup catcher on the team this year – James McCann. James was in a pre-season game this week and let a ball that was outside and in the dirt get by him. In a real game during the season a miscue like that can cost a game and James knows it. He was upset with himself for that miss, so the next day he came to practice early and had the pitching coach line up the pitching machine so that it would fire balls at him outside and in the dirt. He had 100 balls loaded up and fired away so that he would get all of that practice to make sure that he stops balls that might get by him. In the process he was forming the good habits that catchers need of getting down and staying in front of the ball. He is hard on himself, but he doesn’t just beat himself up or get moody about it. He uses his mistakes (misses) as motivation to double-down and work harder.

How about you? Did you keep your resolutions? Have they become good habits for you? The alternatives to holding yourself accountable for your resolutions are to lower your standards or give up completely, neither is a good choice. Once you start allowing at the gymyourself to slip and finding ways to rationalize why that’s OK, you’ve stepped way out onto the slippery slope of backsliding and failure. Don’t go there. It’s not a pleasant place to live. Rather, double your resolve, but don’t beat yourself up. The first step in not giving up is to realize that it’s not too late…you can still do this (whatever “this” is). So, don’t bury your resolutions; dust them off; learn from your mistakes or failures so far; and double-down on your resolve to accomplish those goals (and that’s what they really should have been all along – goals).

Create good new habits along the way to reaching your goals. Have a great weekend catching up on those promises to yourself. As for me, I’ll be at the gym working out.