OPINION | By Jen Oshman
Do you wonder if your faith is enough?
Do you wrestle with doubt and question your salvation?
Are you ashamed that you sometimes lack confidence in God himself?
The emotions surrounding our faith ebb and flow. We may succumb to doubt for a season, perhaps even convincing ourselves that our faith isn’t strong enough to be genuine. Anyone who has followed Christ for a while can probably relate.
In ‘The Triumph of Faith in a Believer’s Life‘, the great 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon said:
Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us, yet the power is not in the faith but in the God in whom faith relies. [emphasis added]
When we wrestle with doubts, we should remind ourselves of this precious truth: it’s not the strength of our faith that ultimately matters, but the object of our faith.
Like an Airplane
Years ago, on a flight from Japan to Taiwan, I was in the bathroom with my 4-year-old daughter when turbulence hit. Without warning, we were knocked to the floor. We hit the locked door so hard it burst open. We heaved up and down for what felt like an eternity, helpless against the air currents outside.
At long last, the turbulence subsided, and we returned to our seats with my husband and other kids. Their smiles told me that the little ones thought the bumpy ride was a blast. I, on the other hand, hated flying more than ever before.
Though that flight was horrible, I’ve flown in dozens of planes in the decade since. Yet each time I battle doubts and have to fight to keep my imagination from wandering. When turbulence hits, I grab my husband’s hand, willing the plane afloat with white knuckles. My faith in the airplane is weak.
Meanwhile, my husband’s faith and my kids’ faith is strong. They don’t give the airplane’s condition or our safety any thought. When turbulence strikes, they all shout, “This is awwwesome!”
But here’s the thing: Even though my faith is weak and my family’s is strong, we all arrive at the same destination. Even though I wrestle with doubt and they don’t, we all get delivered to the same place.
The captain doesn’t come back to my seat and say, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but because you doubt the soundness of this aircraft and my flying capabilities, we’re going to make an early landing and let you off in another city. You don’t get to arrive at the destination, because your trust is weak.”
Strength vs. Object
Just as it’s the power of the airplane, not the power of my faith, that delivers me, so the power for our salvation lies in the strength of our God, not in the strength of our faith. We must fix our eyes on Jesus, not ourselves (Heb. 12:2). His Word doesn’t instruct us to grow our faith by pulling ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps. He doesn’t threaten to leave us if we can’t conjure up enough faith.
The power for our salvation lies in the strength of our God, not in the strength of our faith.
Jesus says, Look to me (John 3:14–15). Come to me. (Matt. 11:28). I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus promises to work when our faith is as small as a mustard seed (Matt. 17:20), for it isn’t the size of our faith that finally matters, but he who is the object.
Even our faith itself is a gift of God, as Paul says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). Our entire life of trusting Christ is itself by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ (Col. 1:16).
Our belief in God’s power is like the act of stepping onto an airplane. We may have uncertainties. We don’t understand how it all works. But we trust it with our lives. The Bible is clear: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
As we battle doubts throughout our lives, the knowledge of Christ’s certain power frees us to take our eyes off ourselves. Confessing our lack of faith, we cling to the sure and certain promise of his finished work on our behalf.
As Spurgeon said, the power to deliver us “is not in the faith but in the God in whom faith relies.” Just as the airplane carries us, so Jesus carries us—no matter what we face with along the way.
Jen Oshman is a wife and mom to four daughters and has served as a missionary for 17 years on three continents. She currently resides in Colorado, where she and her husband serve with Pioneers International, and she encourages her church-planting husband at Redemption Parker. Her passion is leading women into a deeper faith and fostering a biblical worldview. She writes about that at www.jenoshman.com.