Life is never without difficulties and challenges. These challenges can make or break our Christian faith but the Bible encourages every believer to hold on and keep their faith strong in the midst of these challenges. The Apostle Paul, despite his personal circumstance of being bonded in chains in the Roman prison for preaching the gospel; encouraged the church to keep their faith in his letter to the church in Colossae.
His boldness and obedience to God led him to suffer but this did not quench his faith and confidence in the Lord. He continued to write letters to different churches, including the province of Colossae where the people struggled with asceticism being incorporated into their Christian faith. Paul then urged the church in Colossae with these words.
Colossians 2:6-7  Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
If there is one thing that matters, it is to remember what we, Christians, have received in Christ as the most important over other traditions being passed on to us. This good news that we’ve received will greatly impact how we can keep our faith strong.
You have received Christ Jesus the Lord
Different teachings and ideologies are common in Colossae and have shaped how they lived their lives. Paul, in his argument against these different faith systems, pointed the believers to Jesus as the good news they have received. Faith begins in Christ’s finished work at the cross. It is every Christian’s reminder that Christ’s work is complete and finished. We are called to be more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37). Jesus is our assurance of victory from all our pain and sufferings. He is our confidence and hope that even death has no sting (Romans 15:55).
Paul would describe our faith as a shield (Ephesians 6:16). As believers, we are to strengthen our faith as a shield against the challenges, the unbelief, and the discouragements that we face. Our faith may waver but it is not defeated by the enemy and because we put our confidence in Christ, we will come out victorious. As Christians, how do we cultivate strong faith that overcomes tough times: (1) Walk in Christ, (2) Be rooted and built up in Christ, (3) Established in the faith and (4) Abound in thanksgiving.
Walk in Christ
Walking is part of every person’s daily routine. The path we take leads us to our destination. Every day is not a walk in the park but being focused on our destination allows us to continue despite the difficulties we face along the way. The strength to continue in the midst of difficulties reflects C. S. Lewis’s words: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
As we continue moving forward in Christ, we are building a faith that looks ahead to the reward that is set before us (Hebrews 12:2). To not dwell on the present but to look forward with expectation to the victory that Christ has prepared ahead for us. Walking by faith and not by sight may be a common phrase we declare as Christians but something we are to live out as we mature in our faith.
Be rooted and built up in Christ
Every tree has roots, the deeper the roots the more nourishment the tree receives and the less susceptible it is from being washed away when flood comes. Storms expose the condition of our rootedness in Christ, the shallower the roots the more we are inclined to be swept away by trends and the culture around us. When our roots are deeply hidden in Christ, no amount of flood, wind or storms can pull us away from our source – Jesus Christ.
The depth of our foundation also determines how high we can be built up. Any building without foundations falls into ruins. As we grow more in our understanding of who God is, it strengthens our resolve to hold on and endure when difficulty comes, holding on to the assurance that God is faithful and He fulfills what He promised He will do.
Established in the faith
Building strong spiritual muscles is not developed overnight but over time. Constant exercises of mercy, prayer, worship, and studying the Word strengthen our faith muscles. Spiritual disciplines may seem unfruitful at the moment, but the infilling prepares us for the greater battles ahead. Battles are not to be taken lightly in the Christian faith. Jesus gave us a guarantee that if we are His followers, we will experience troubles in this world (John 16:33).
Before troubles come, our spiritual disciplines are muscle-builders that will enable us to carry heavier loads when tough times happen. These disciplines are our wells of faith where we can draw out resources to withstand the attacks thrown against us. Constantly refilling our souls and establishing our faith in Christ is a weapon that the enemy does not want us to wield. Our faith, like Paul mentioned, is a shield against the lies and the arrows of the enemy.
It is a defensive tool to guard and protect against an incoming attack but also, in Roman warfare, it can be used to attack the enemy in close combat. Holding a shield can make or break a victory, just as establishing our spiritual disciplines can make or break our faith.
Abound in Thanksgiving
If there’s one thing that sets apart every believer in tough times, it is abounding in thanksgiving. Gratitude cannot be manufactured but it is an overflow of every believer whose eyes are fixed on the Lord more than their present circumstances. Thanksgiving is seeing the beauty and being confident that God, who is able to turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11), is with us and is fighting for us.
Thanksgiving gives us a bigger perspective that our difficulties are not the determinant of the outcome of our battles in life, rather, these battles are just a means to an end – that Jesus will be victorious above all. This intentional shift in our minds helps us move from negativity to positivity because of our assurance in the unfailing hope we have in Christ.
Strong Faith in Tough Times
Keeping our faith strong in tough times is not easy but Jesus assures us to take heart because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33). Our assurance and confidence are that He is faithful even when we are not, but by building our faith and strengthening it will help us not be washed away with the wicked. Tough times expose the quality of our faith – the abundance and the lack of it – and it is an opportunity for us to grow and mature in our faith.
As Christians, we are not to take this life lightly. Tough times will happen and no one will be exempted from it but what will set us apart is the presence of God in our lives. Like how the Israelites escaped the clutches of their Egyptian rulers, it is the involvement of God and His presence with His people that caused other nations to recognize God and that they are His people. In our times today, with all the teachings and ideologies of this world that imbibes positivity and self-love, it is the message that we are Christ’s and that makes us victorious and overcomers in this life.
Check out some of our other posts!