Living with Confidence
It is important to live with confidence. We need to cultivate this confidence within us. Living with confidence and living without confidence are radically different. The quality of life will be different. When you have confidence, you can deal with challenges you face in your life much better. Even the most difficult challenges will not intimidate you and bring you down. You will DARE to challenge them. But when you live without confidence, you become timid. Fear takes over and makes you paralyzed. You don’t want to face your challenges. You want to avoid your problems as much as you want. You just hope that your problems may disappear but you don’t do anything about them. You just want life to be problem free. When challenges come at you, the first thing you think about is running away from them rather than facing up to them.
Confidence is a belief that YOU CAN DO IT. It is the INNER CONVICTION. That was what Jesus taught us. A father who had a challenging son came to Jesus and asked him. The father went to the disciples and they couldn’t heal his son. So, finally he came to Jesus and asked him to heal his son. He said,
if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us. (Mark 9:22)
If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes. (Mark 9:23)
All things can be done for those who believe. That’s a tremendous confidence. You can see the inner conviction. That is how confident people see their lives. They believe that all things can be done.
That was how St. Paul saw his life, too.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Founded on Christianity
Jesus and St. Paul – They were both very confident people. They were the ones who established the foundation of Christianity. Christianity is founded on this incredible faith that we can do all things. Jesus, Paul, and their disciples were not intimidated even by death.
Where does this confidence come from? Let us look at today’s passage. This particular piece was written for the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon. Isaiah was basically saying to them; your time of captivity was over. Now God wanted to bring you home.
In chapter 49, he expressed it in this way.
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)
You see a very feminine image of God. God was portrayed as a mother who would never forget her child. God forgave them and embraced them. God wanted to bring them home.
In today’s passage, we see the third servant song in Isaiah. We are not sure who this servant is in this passage. We don’t know exactly the identity of this servant. It can be one person or a collective body, like Israel. But Isaiah saw this mysterious servant. We hear what this servant said.
…he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? (Isaiah 50:8)
It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? (Isaiah 50:9)
This servant showed the kind of confidence Jesus and Paul had. They all strongly believed that God was with them and nothing could take away the confidence they had.
Let me read it again for you.
The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? (Isaiah 50:7-9)
If God is for me, who is against me? Or if God is for me, WHAT is against me? No challenges and no problems could defeat the servant, he said. A very firm understanding of God and his relationship with God.
Truth Gives Confidence
This is exactly the reason for us to have confidence. This truth gives us the confidence. The truth that God is for us. This truth sets us free and gives us the confidence. This confidence does not come from us and our ability. It is not about how we feel about ourselves and our abilities. It is not a psychological confidence. It is a spiritual confidence. It is confidence not because our life is going well, not because we do everything well. Not because we are capable. Not because we are better than other people. Not because we are specially gifted. It is confidence that GOD HAS VALIDATED ME. So we don’t need validation from people or from the world. This confidence is much stronger than the confidence that comes from believing in one’s own ability. The confidence that comes from believing in our own ability will not be sustainable if we fall and fail. This confidence is not possible when we start doubting about our own ability.
When we do well, we are fine. We can live with confidence. But that is not enough. Because there are times when we all fall and fail. We need confidence even when we fall and fail. What we need is confidence NOT BECAUSE OF ME but IN SPITE OF ME. Life is bigger than us. And therefore challenges are bigger than us too. Not everything depends on us and our abilities. We need faith that hopes against hope.
Confidence in God’s Love
This servant, Jesus, and St. Paul – Their confidence came from their awareness that they were connected to power bigger than themselves. They had confidence not in themselves but beyond themselves. That’s what confident people do. They do not stop where their own abilities come to a limit. They go beyond themselves.
St. Paul said a similar thing in Romans.
If God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31)
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. (Romans 8:33, 34)
He discovered God who embraced him, accepted him, and approved him. What gives us the confidence is this discovery of oneself whom God forgave, accepted, and approved. No one can take away this confidence from us. It comes from the realization of God’s love for us.
Paul continued about this confidence by talking about love.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS, he said. That’s confidence. It is the confidence not in himself but in God and God’s love. And he said, nothing in the world can separate us from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39)
More than Conquerors
When we have this kind of confidence, we can be more than conquerors. We can take any challenges in life. The world can be quite cold and indifferent. People can be cruel. We all experience that in our lives. The servant also experienced the same thing.
I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6)
He didn’t react. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t retaliate. He just let them be. This is so similar to our Lord Jesus in the final stage of his life. That’s why early Christians used this passage a lot, thinking about Jesus. They connected Jesus with this servant. Jesus was also humiliated, insulted, condemned, and crucified on the cross. But nothing could take away the confidence Jesus had. Jesus was not wavered. His confidence was not wavering confidence. Nothing could conquer him. He knew this truth that God was for him.
Every morning, we need to listen to this truth. God is for us. Who can be against us? Who can bring charge against us? And begin a day. When we don’t do that, we will be trampled by the challenges. They will conquer us. They will make our lives difficult. They will destroy us. They will take away our confidence.
Challenge your Life
Before you begin a day, first find this confidence in God. This confidence will hold you tight. Then you don’t need to react to every situation. You can keep calm confidence. In this quiet calmness, you will be able to hear what you need to do.
When you lose confidence, your life will be shaky. You will get easily annoyed. You will worry over small problems. You will be scared of suffering and when the suffering comes, you will run away. But when you have confidence, then you can love. You can fight the injustice. You don’t have to worry about what others think of you. You can dare to be different. You can live out your calling. You can challenge your life.
Today is Passion Sunday but it is also Palm Sunday. Palm branches symbolize the victory and triumph. On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ Triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He suffered but he conquered. He suffered but the suffering could not take away his confidence. Jesus was confident even to take up the cross. He was strong enough to even forgive people who crucified him on the cross. If we have the confidence Jesus had, we can conquer our life. We can be triumphant. We can overcome our suffering. We can overcome our death. The message we get from Jesus’ life is this. Not even the suffering of the cross could destroy Jesus but that suffering served Jesus and brought life to us.
Don’t begin your day without preparation. First make sure that you remind yourself this truth. God is for you. What will be against you? And have confidence. No challenge in the world can defeat you. Challenge your life. Start the day with faith. Start the day with that prayer. Your day will be different.