Mark Twain once quipped, “All you need in life is ignorance and confidence, and success is sure.” There is a bit of truth in that statement. When you either don’t care about failing or don’t know that you can fail, you typically put your head down and keep plowing ahead.
Confidence is the engine that drives achievement. It pushes us toward the mark, the goal. It is the “it factor” that distinguishes the exceptional from the average.
But where does it come from?
While it is true that some people seem to have been born with personalities and dispositions that exude a focused self-assurance, for most of us, our confidence has developed over time. Abilities have been sharpened and honed. We have been tested and challenged, and have learned to trust our abilities and capabilities in certain areas. In fact, the challenges have strengthened and refined both our abilities and our will to push forward. The result is a courageous confidence that says, “I don’t have to be afraid; this can be done.”
The professional athlete doesn’t sweat under pressure because he’s sunk that shot, hit that ball, and made that catch thousands of times. Chances are the Academy Award–winning actress nurtured and developed her craft for years in relative obscurity and developed an outlook that says, “This may be a bigger stage, but I’ve been here before and I can do this.” The surgeon is focused and calm under pressure because his education, training, and experience have prepared him for that moment. In short, confidence says: “I’ve been preparing for this very moment. I’m ready. Let’s do it.”
CONFIDENCE FROM ABOVE
As followers of Christ, there is a distinctively different basis, direction, and source of our confidence. The Bible speaks of confidence from a vertical perspective. It is not derived from the relative consistency of our experiences and the development of our gifts, talents, and abilities. It doesn’t come from the strength of our personalities or our track records of success. Likewise, it is not diminished or damaged by inconsistency, failure, suffering, dysfunction, or what so often appears to be the erratic, unpredictable nature of life.
No. Our confidence is anchored in God. He never changes. He is never out of control. He is never taken by surprise. He never loses. Our circumstances don’t affect God; he affects our circumstances. God never missteps. He has no glitches. His ability to function is never overloaded. He never breaks down or crashes. He is our proactive, loving heavenly Father, who not only has a plan for our lives, but also has the resources to make happen everything he intends.
Our confidence does not depend on what we have or what we have done. Our confidence is in a person — our unfailing God, who shows up in every situation, circumstance, and condition in which we find ourselves. This causes us to be resilient, to persevere, to endure.
This kind of confidence is what the Bible calls FAITH. Biblical confidence is an enduring faith.
There’s a relationship between the condition and strength of our faith and our view of God. In other words, the condition of our faith is a reflection of our view of God.
But our view of God is often eclipsed by what appear to be insurmountable challenges and difficulties. Added to this is the corrosive cynicism that permeates Western culture. It has become an art form. We have made it intellectually appealing to be doubters. We celebrate our “incisive” negative analysis of seemingly everything and everyone, from the president of the United States to local pastors, from pop icons to our neighbors. Bloggers, magazines, and the tidal wave of talk shows give us a daily autopsy, pointing out what’s wrong and why we can’t trust this person or that situation. And it affects us. A constant diet of the downside of life lowers our sights, clouds our perspective, and contaminates our faith.
Our faith needs to be guarded and protected, because it is the currency of the Christian life. The writer of the book of Hebrews says it clearly and directly: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (11:6). Our God confidence is no casual thing. It is key to experiencing God’s presence and power in our lives and in the circumstances and challenges we face.
Our journey through this life must be viewed through the lens of God’s Word. There we see the truth concerning who God is and how we are to face every issue and challenge in life, including those dark, uncertain times. God is there, and he is our confidence.