One of God’s countless gifts is the ability to know and trust him.  Still, faith is largely a choice.  We can choose to believe he exists.  Although we can’t directly experience him with our senses, we can choose to interpret the beauty and mystery of nature, the good things that happen, answered prayers, and seemingly impossible “coincidences” as evidence of God’s existence and power.  We can also choose to believe that God inspired Scripture, and that his promises will come true because he said them.  Similarly, we can choose to trust that even when things go wrong, when evil seems to win out, or when our lives are full of pain and tragedy, God still loves us and wants to bless us.

Of course, the fact that faith is a choice means that we can also choose not to believe in God or trust him.  Instead, some choose to believe that all of life, including what believers call “creation” is random, and that there is no rhyme or reason behind events other than “the luck of the draw”.

Some struggle with whether to believe in God.  To them I ask, “Which choice makes you happier – to believe, or not to believe?”  The answer is always that faith results in greater happiness and more optimistic thinking.  There is also a growing body of research showing that a life of faith is more likely to result in increased health, decreased mental and physical illness, and more satisfying relationships.  For example, one review of the published research showed that “religious involvement and spirituality is associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.”

There are also abundant bible verses about the relationship between faith and fulfillment.   A few of my favorites are:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart  (Psalm 37:4 ESV).

When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  (John 15:10-11 NLT).

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9.)

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life  (John 10:10 NLT).

I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. Fo I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty (Philippians 4:13 TPT).

More than anything, contentment seems to be that elusive quality we all strive for.  But, according to the note that follows Philippians 4:11-14 in the Voice version: “The normal, natural state of humanity is discontent and quiet desperation.  It takes a powerful, spiritual presence to transform anxiety into joyous satisfaction.  Ironically, it may be the shackles more than his freedom that schools Paul in the art of contentment.  Despite the chains, Paul discovers this beautiful state of inner peace through the power of Jesus residing in him.”

If you struggle to believe, how can you grow in your faith?  Paul wrote that reading God’s Word helps our faith to grow:  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ  (Romans 10:17).

Obedience is also important:

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.  And because they love me, my Father will love them.  And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them (John 14:21 NLT.)

In other words, the more we read and obey the bible, the more we will believe and come to know Jesus.

Finally, attending church and staying connected with other faithful people can help keep us spiritually strong:  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT).

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG: Expect Miracles!