I have been trying to write about Psalm 27:13 for the last few days. David wrote, “I would have lost heart (fainted), unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Each time I have sat down to write I just have not felt like what I was trying to say was what God wanted to be said so I have hit delete and decided to try again another day. Today I finally feel ready, I hope you are to. This verse speaks to me on many levels, but I think what I find most appealing is that I am a fainter. I have passed out on more than one occasion when faced with giving blood, but that is the least of my confessions. I have experienced times of fainting in my spiritual life as well. Moments when I decided to be finished with a project, at the end of my strength in waiting for a promise, out of energy when praying for someone or something and even out of hope when faced with despair. I have never, ever come to the point in which I did not consider or believe God to be good, but I have come to places in which I have doubted my ability, my worthiness, my willingness and even my calling. This verse gives me courage because it seems to me that David is expressing what I have expressed myself, he never wanted to be free from God but had times in which he seemed to no longer have the strength to wait, to trust, to hope or to believe. I don’t want to faint anymore and I am trying to take the example of David’s writing to heart so I can learn how to have my strength renewed and my hope strengthened.
A few years ago I learned a valuable lesson about my physical fainting issue, the more embarrassed I was about it the more anxious I became and the more prone I was to fainting again. I had to get a series of shots for a trip to the Philippines and I decided that I would tell the doctor that I had a history of fainting. When I told him he did not make a big deal, he did not ridicule me but instead he reassured me and then asked if I would be more comfortable laying down for the shots so that I was not worried about falling. If I remember correctly I got three shots that day and did not even get a little dizzy. From that time I have continued to follow that pattern, when giving blood or getting shots, let the doctors and nurses know my history beforehand; it has been years since the last time I fainted. What I realize now is that I needed help. I still don’t know why needles bother me so much. I have never had a bad experience, no real reason to point to for my anxiety but I know that it is real and that I needed to find a way to deal with it rather than just continuing as I was. By sharing my anxiety with the doctors and nurses it seems that I have opened myself up and allowed them to now help me with it rather than seeing them as part of the cause for it.
For those like me, that have times in which we are faint in spirit, we need to learn to stop hiding our weakness and to begin to allow others to help us carry it. First we have to make a confession to God. He knows our hearts and our struggles. He knows our thoughts and our weaknesses. He is not demanding that we overcome our weakness with our own strength, He is offering to be our Overcomer with His! I have become a firm believer in the act of confession, not merely for the forgiveness of sin but for the empowerment over weakness. It is not a sin to be tempted, but there is something powerful that happens when I confess to God that I am being tempted. He brings strength, He brings hope, He brings love and He brings a way of escape. We often quote I Corinthians 10:13 in part, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able”. This partial quotation leaves out the most important part of the promise. The next words read, “but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God is not reacting to temptation, as if He is a Holy strainer, blocking that which could destroy us and allowing to come through that which we can bear, He is actively preparing a way of escape, a way of overcoming, a way of victory and a way of hope.
Isaiah famously wrote, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; . . . They shall walk and not faint.” The Hebrew word translated wait is qavah, it also carries the meaning “hope, expect, look for”. It is not the act of waiting that renews our strength, it is placing our hope in God while we wait, it is the expectation of God to do what He has promised and to forever be good, it is the action of looking for God’s presence and fulfillment that builds us up and the overcomes our bent for fainting. Our view of waiting is to simply be idle until an opportunity or appointment arises; this is not how God sees waiting at all. While waiting with, for or on God, we are not idle and we are not to be troubled but rather it is a season to have faith increase, to have character changed and to have hope built. Going back to Psalm 27, David said that he would have lost heart if he had not believed he would see the goodness of God. David did not need a glimpse, a confirmation or a sign to keep him from fainting, he needed faith. David’s faith kept him upright, his faith kept him from falling and his faith kept him from giving up. David was not sure when, was not sure how but he was sure that God would do what He had promised. His faith was not in the outcome it is was in the character of God.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “encourage one another daily”. As believers in Jesus the Holy Spirit lives within us (I Corinthians 6:19), and so we all always have the ability to give, to strengthen, to edify and to encourage. We must recognize that we have the power to lift each other up and to walk in the seriousness of this ability. If you are prone to fainting I want to encourage you to surround yourself with people that are willing to speak life and love into you. Surround yourself with those that are not merely filled with God’s Spirit but that are willing ambassadors of His Spirit. As you are surrounded, now you must make a step of faith and courage, confess your fears, confess your doubts, confess your anxiety and confess that you are prone to faint. This is not a confession of failure but rather a confession of need and weakness. Jesus told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” If you want the perfection of Christ’s strength in your life you must be willing to confess your weakness.
It has been years since I physically fainted but it has only been a few weeks since I felt as if I would faint in my spirit. I confess that to you today because I am confident that some of you may feel the same way as I have. If you are near the point of being overwhelmed today, don’t try to hold your chin up and get over it, confess it to God; share your heart and your mind with Him. Get in touch with a trusted brother or sisters and honestly share your experience so that they can pray. Don’t ask them to make it better, ask them to pray for you to be strengthened and for your faith to increase. This last part is a key, don’t pray for a sign or for a new confirmation, turn your attention to what God has already done in your life and around you. Our weariness is usually not about the current situation it is actually found in where we have set our attention. When my focus is on how long I have waited I decide that I have waited too long. When I focus on what I don’t understand I become even more confused. When I focus on what I am not in control of I become even more controlling. But when I “set my affections (focus) on things above” I become ever aware that I am loved with an everlasting love; that Jesus “does all things well”; that God is forever in control and that everything He does is done because of His love for me. We faint not when we lose focus but when we focus on the things that take our strength. We overcome our weakness by putting our hope in the God that is always strong. For the last couple of weeks I have been completely taken with one lyric from the song “He loves us”: “All of A sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.” My fainting is overcome when I know I am loved; my weakness is overcome when I know I am loved and my heart is renewed when I know I am loved. If you are a fainter, like me, I pray that you will be reminded that God loves you and His love will cast out all fear, overcome all anxiety, mend every broken heart and fulfill every promise.