It was my junior year of high school, and things could not have been going better.
I was riding high, coming off of an exceptional academic semester and sports season. I felt invincible.
Then, I got the news.
I knew something was wrong when my mom sat me down on our living room couch, which was generally reserved for guests. She told me she had cancer, and that she would need surgery and then more treatment.
It felt like my whole world was crashing down on me. I was disoriented and overwhelmed. The emotionally steadying anchor in my life had suddenly become vulnerable and our future was uncertain.
I remember boasting, “I’ve got it made! Nothing can stop me now! I’m God’s favored one; he’s made me steady as a mountain!” But then suddenly, you hid your face from me. I was panic-stricken and became depressed.
Psalm 30:6 TPT
Life is a roller coaster—reaching great heights and then sudden, dizzying falls. Without convictions to anchor and stabilize us, we can begin losing faith in God and become unsteady, as this X Ambassadors song wonderfully articulates:
Our faith is fluid and can often go up and down like our emotions in reaction to life’s circumstances and events. We need convictions to make us internally strong.
The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind.  Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything.  The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.
James 1:6-8 Voice
It wasn’t until two years after my mother’s surgery that I understood the importance of conviction. Conviction is a single-minded commitment to something. For Christians, that commitment is to God and his Word.
Through studying the Bible and making decisions to follow it, God and his promises became personal for me. The Bible was not something I heard from someone else or just a set of principles and ideals to live by, but rather something I came to believe in deeply and personally.
Building this kind of conviction and fighting for it has become my North Star, guiding me through the craziness of life.
Over the course of life’s ups and downs, I have discovered four convictions that help me become steady when I am struggling with faith.
Failure is not fatal
I always like reading about Peter in the Bible because he made a lot of mistakes and had personal failures that plagued him, but he was resilient. He constantly rebounded.
In this next passage, Jesus is letting Peter know that he is going to blow it at a pivotal time, but also encourages Peter not to quit because God has a great purpose waiting for him.
“Peter, my dear friend, listen to what I’m about to tell you. Satan has demanded to come and sift you like wheat and test your faith. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes. Remember this: after you have turned back to me and have been restored, make it your life mission to strengthen the faith of your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 TPT
Peter shows us that no matter how big or small our failure, we can turn back from it. God still has a mission specifically tailored for us. In fact, our failures equip us best to be the most effective at our purpose.
I have had some big, life-altering failures—some public, and some of them private. In the midst of all of these failures, I have felt like my world was over. I worried I would not recover or ever be able to make things right again.
However, as I look back now that I am older, I can see that those times produced some of the best lessons, the most faith, and the most significant changes I have ever made.
Just recently, I hurt a family member. However, after getting some help, seeking forgiveness, and talking it through with them, I learned humility and the importance of being more vulnerable.
Now we are closer and understand each other more than ever before. I know I will experience more failures in my life, but as long as I have the conviction that God can use anything to advance his purpose and that he has a mission specifically designed for me to accomplish, failure will never be fatal. It’s merely a step forward in God’s plan.
How have you responded to failure in your life?
How can God turn what you may view as a failure into something that equips you to help others?
What is the specific purpose God has tailored your life to accomplish?
Hope is an anchor
So God has given us two unchanging things: His promise and His oath. These prove that it is impossible for God to lie. As a result, we who come to God for refuge might be encouraged to seize that hope that is set before us.
That hope is real and true, an anchor to steady our restless souls, a hope that leads us back behind the curtain to where God is (as the high priests did in the days when reconciliation flowed from sacrifices in the temple) and back into the place where Jesus, who went ahead on our behalf, has entered since He has become a High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:18-20 Voice
God always gives us hope—the feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. He says we need to seize that hope, and if we do, it will become an anchor for our restless souls.
Hope is what keeps us from drifting. It keeps us going through the difficulties and impossibilities of life because we believe God will use all of it to do something great that will, in the end, change lives for the better.
When I am struggling in my faith, negative thinking starts to grip me, and I become trapped by the following negativity traps:
Pessimism: I tend to see the negative in every situation.
Cynicism: I am inclined to believe the worst about people.
Skepticism: I am doubtful about the truths in the Bible.
Fatalism. I believe bad things will inevitably happen.
The above passage in Hebrews 6 says the way out of these negative traps is to seize the hope that God offers. That means developing a conviction to believe the Bible over my emotions. I have to find verses in the Bible that remind me of who God is, the hope he offers, and the power he has to come through on those promises.
Hope is what can turn pessimism into optimism, cynicism into trust, skepticism into conviction, and fatalism into faith.
We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
Romans 8:28 Voice
What type of negative thinking do you struggle with? How can seizing the hope God offers change that thinking?
Do you believe the Bible over your emotions?
Transparency is freeing
This is what I’ve learned through it all: All believers should confess their sins to God; do it every time God has uncovered you in the time of exposing. For if you do this, when sudden storms of life overwhelm, you’ll be kept safe. Lord, you are my secret hiding place, protecting me from these troubles, surrounding me with songs of gladness! Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough. Pause in his presence
Psalm 32:6-7 TPT
I have not always believed transparency is freeing. I have feared being completely open because it makes me feel vulnerable and open to rejection.
However, what we learn from this passage of the Bible is that when sudden storms of life overwhelm us, it is being completely open and confessing our sins that keep us safe.
Guilt, shame, and the weight of deceit leave us continually on the brink of being overwhelmed. So, when a life storm comes, we will be easily pushed over the edge and swept away.
Additionally, our view of God is tainted by this guilt, and we can come to see him as a punisher rather than a refuge.
In contrast, the life lived transparently is ready for anything that comes its way because it is lived free and sees God as a hiding place, a rescuer, and a help.
Do you have the conviction that transparency is freeing?
How do you need to change your view of God?
What do you need to free yourself of so you can be prepared for anything life throws at you?
Friendships are a lifeline
Throughout his life, Paul surrounded himself with friends who shared his convictions.
Reading through his letters, we find Luke, Titus, Timothy, Silas, Epaphras, Priscilla, and Aquila, just to name a few. These friends were a lifeline for him, and he for them (Philippians 2:22).
Here Paul is addressing the elders in the city of Ephesus for the last time.
[you know] how I did not shrink back in fear from telling you anything that was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public meetings, and from house to house,  solemnly [and wholeheartedly] testifying to both Jews and Greeks, urging them to turn in repentance to God and [to have] faith in our Lord Jesus Christ [for salvation].  And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,
Acts 20:20-22 AMP
We learn that friends with shared convictions don’t just appear but happen as the result of hard, relational work.
Too often, we want great friendships but still live with fearful avoidance, isolating in the comfort of our homes, never engaging or initiating spiritual conversation. Instead, Paul was compelled and obligated by something moving him from the inside out.
He would talk about anything that was spiritually helpful, anywhere, and at any time. Rather than shrinking back from engaging people, his conviction made him initiate and move closer to friends.
I have always had a strong desire to prove myself and show how capable I am. Too often, it has made me a loner and led to spiritual defeat.
However, I am so grateful for friends who have been a lifeline for me. I have changed, and I now have a conviction that I can’t and don’t want to go it alone. It is people with a shared conviction about God that will change the world.
As Margaret Mead, the renowned American anthropologist said:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Life is full of ups and downs, and our faith will not always be strong. But in the midst of difficulty, it is our convictions that will steady us.
Do you view your friendships as a lifeline?
How are you trying to prove yourself?
Do you have friends with shared convictions? What kind of relationship work do you need to do in order to build those relationships?