Faith in Jesus is not the same as feelings for Jesus. Faith is stronger than feelings. It is stronger than knowledge. Faith often becomes a sheer act of will. A person may say, “I don’t feel like believing, but I want to believe.” And it may very well be that if a person were to say, “I don’t know whether this Christianity is true or not, but with all my heart I want it to be true,” then in God’s sight he has faith. A man cried to Jesus, “I believe, help thou my unbelief.” God himself is the giver of faith. By myself I cannot believe in Jesus or come to him, but the Holy Spirit works through Word and Sacrament to give me faith.
He makes it possible for me to be a believer. To be sure, feelings are important. In fact, Jesus will give us deep and lasting feelings. He will help us to feel joy, to feel repentance, to feel hope, to feel love, to feel faith. But when the dark days come, and these feelings seem to slip away, be sure of this: Jesus has not abandoned us. He does not make feelings a condition for his being with us. He is with us, even in those gloomy and depressed days when we hardly dare to think that he cares at all.
A man came once to me and said, “I feel that God has left me.” I replied, “Perhaps that does not make any difference to God.” After all, God is our Father, Jesus is our great Brother and Savior… He has promised never to leave us or abandon us. He has given us his Word. We rest there. –Alvin Rogness, The Jesus Life, pages 26-27.
“What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course, it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe, so you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.” –Flannery O’Connor, Habit of Being, page 354.
“I need not exert myself and try to force myself to believe or try to chase doubt out of my heart. Both are equally useless. I have let Jesus into my heart, and he will fulfill my heart’s desire. I need only to tell Jesus how weak my faith is. ”
Mark 9:24 — …The boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Romans 10:17 — Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
O Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me a right faith, a certain hope, and a perfect love, understanding, and knowledge; O Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command. Amen. –St. Francis of Assisi