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HOW TO STRENGTHEN FAITH IN THE LORD?
Oct 23, 1996

Father, you've been doing a wonderful job so far. Keep up the good work! About 2 years ago, I foolishly had a 30-second encounter with a lady sex worker. Two months ago, I realized that I may be at risk, so I took the test. It came back negative. I remember praying fervently to the Lord the week before I got my test result. You can imagine the joy and relief I felt when I found out I was OK and that the tests were over 99.99% accurate. However, I continued to read up on HIV and found different reasons why I may be an exception. I have since taken the test again, and again it came out negative. However, my mind still continues to insist I'm not OK, even though there's no symptoms. I've been haunted daily with visions of being infected, yet deep down I know I'm not. I kept on looking for anything, anybody that can guarantee me 100% that I'm not infected. I found no one. Then last night, it hit me: No man and no test can ever guarantee 100% Only the Lord can!! What mental/spiritual techniques can I use to strengthen my faith to the Lord? How can I achieve 100% faith in our God and be completely convinced that he has spared me from this? Thanks for any response.

Response from Rev. Pieters

It sounds as if you're letting your fear of HIV infection have more power than your faith in God. This is not uncommon for persons of faith. I'm sure you can appreciate the man who cries "I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!" in Mark 9:24. I have often spoken this prayer myself when confronted with something that terrifies me and threatens my faith in God. It is totally human to be afraid of HIV infection (although no one need fear persons living with HIV), and God totally understands. Fear can be a huge block to faith. Please read my column on this subject, Column #5, "Fear and Faith," January 31, 1996. I suggest many ways to apply your faith in the face of fear. Another technique to strengthen your faith can be simply acting as if you have faith. That's right! Play the role of a person of great faith. Try that personality on for size. See how it feels to have "100% faith in our God," by just pretending to have it. One of the sayings from 12-step programs that is very useful for everyone is "Fake it until you make it." You might feel only the tiniest flicker of faith, yet you can fan it into full flame by acting as if that faith is the total reality of your life. Try it --- it just might work for you.



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