Is your faith weak? Are you perplexed because your faith doesn't seem to get results? Have you diligently prayed about a request and believed for it with all your heart and it didn't happen? Even worse, the very opposite happened? A loved one was not healed. The desire of your heart was not granted - at least, not to your satisfaction. The miracle you needed has not yet come. Time drags on, and the problems are still there.
The worst part of it all is that the Word of God tries you in such times. You read all the glorious promises: "All things are possible to them that believe." "Ask, nothing wavering, and it shall be done." "All things whatsoever you shall ask in faith, believing, you shall have them." You set out to claim those promises. You know God is not a liar, and He would not tease you with unreachable goals. Yet, try as you may to believe - really, truly believe - you often are left confused, because the answer is either delayed or not in view.
According to the theology of some, there are only two reasons why you did not get what you asked for. Either your faith is faulty or there is sin in your life.
You are made to believe that God had to withhold the answer until your faith improved enough to satisfy Him. Either the quality or quantity of your faith did not come up to God's criteria for answered prayer. You are made to believe that God is obligated by His Word to answer every request - the moment you reach the proper pinnacle of faith. That includes removing from your vocabulary any negative thoughts, words, or confessions. You see, you dare not offend God. He may have been almost ready to grant your desire - but, oops! You made a negative confession. You said the wrong words, so God's taking it all back! Now you have it - now you don't!
My friends, that kind of theology is silly, and it's a slap in the face of an intelligent, loving Heavenly Father. Everywhere I go today, I meet Christians living in fear of saying the wrong thing and thereby blocking the flow of blessings - as if God is hanging on every word His children say, tiptoeing around, ready to slap a penalty on everyone who speaks out of line.
I am meeting Christians throughout our nation whose faith is shipwrecked because they are disillusioned and hurt. They came upon a "faith" teaching that made them believe that getting every desire of the heart depended simply on getting their formulas correct. They were challenged to launch out in God for prosperity, perfect health, and whatever else their minds could conceive. "Conceive, then believe," they were told. They were urged to blot out of their thinking all thoughts of suffering, pain, poverty - or anything negative. They were carried along by the testimonies of those around them who were getting new cars, homes, jobs, fur coats, diamond rings - whatever their hearts desired - all through positive faith.
But when none of these things happened for them - when, instead of prosperity, there came accumulating bills - when, instead of healing, there came a time of testing, tears, sorrow, and all - they ended up confused! What happened? It worked for the teacher. It worked for the evangelist. He prospers. He gets anything he wants - right when he wants it. Then comes the questions, "It works for others; why not for me?" "What am I doing wrong? It must be in me, my faith must be weak, imperfect. There must be a secret sin blocking the answer."
Let me share with you some very healing thoughts about faith and love. I believe God works miracles in answer to the prayer of faith. I believe every promise in God's Word as is! But, through much suffering and tears, I've discovered something wonderful about the way God works. What you are about to read should help renew your confidence in the Lord and set you free from the bondage of trying to figure out faith.
Suppose my son Greg was caught in a bear trap in the woods near our home. I hear this cry for help. He is hurt, bleeding, and calls for me with all his might.
As his father, do I stop first to analyze the quality of his faith? Do I ask myself the question, "I wonder if Greg believes I'll answer him? Does he have faith enough in me trusting I'll come to his rescue?"
No! A thousand times no! I run to my boy's side - no questions asked - no faith involved - because I am motivated by a father's love for a hurting child. His faith doesn't motivate me. It is not anything he does at all. It is simply my love for him.
What kind of an earthly father would leave a child bleeding and hurt in some forsaken woods simply because the child didn't voice some kind of faith in him? And God will never leave one of His children to suffer alone. He will never shut His ear to their cry - simply because their faith in Him is weak.
"Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself; and he will always carry out his promises to us..." (2 Timothy 2:13 LB).
My faith, your faith, all faith - must rest on the loving kindness and concern of our Heavenly Father. We are commanded to glory in the love and everlasting kindness of our Father.
"But let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight..."(Jeremiah 9:24 RSV).
God so loves His children, He hears before they call, like a mother who anticipates her baby's cry. That is why David prayed, "Because you are so loving and kind, listen to me and make me well again" (Psalm 119:149 LB).
He loves me and comes to my rescue when my faith is weak, when I don't deserve any answer from Him all because of His tenderness and kindness.
"He is merciful and tender toward those who don't deserve it - He is slow to get angry, and full of kindness and love...He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever..." (Psalm 103:8,9 LB).
The greatest peace has flooded my life since I have convinced myself that God loves me. So much so, He will come to my rescue and do what is right in every situation of my life. Weak faith or not, He still loves me and nothing can hinder that love.
Job's wife confessed the world's worst confession. She said to Job, "Curse God and die!" Yet, in spite of it, she participated in the very same blessings of her faithful husband.
One theologian asked, "Why didn't God take his wife, since He took everything else from Job?" Read almost any commentary and you detect that same kind of disrespect for Job's wife. But lately I've had a new appreciation for that suffering woman. I think we've been too hard on her. After all, those ten children who were killed were hers, too.
No wonder this woman was staggered in her faith. The devil wasn't after her; yet she suffered as much or more than Job. A woman usually suffers more than a man over the death of children. She had the added sorrow of watching her husband slowly die of elephantiasis, a terminal disease.
Job's wife had stood weeping over ten caskets - all in a row. No more grandchildren. No more holidays together with the family. The only family left now was Job, and he, too, was dying. Elephantiasis is described as a disease causing intense heat; a burning, swelling from ulcers, and cancerous sores; covering the skin with knotty bar-like texture, such as the skin of an elephant. The disease grows progressively worse and affects the genital organs. This meant Job could have no more children, in his diseased condition. His wife could not even look forward to raising a new family. What despair must have come over her. I'm sure she lost all hope. She had to have been mad at God. I don't excuse what she said, and I think it is tragic that she did not yield to God's love and hold on to her faith. But I can understand the kind of grief and pain that staggered her so. I can understand how, in her human sorrow, she could not fathom what was happening. All she knew was that all was lost. She thought there was nothing left to live for. And that is why she suggested Job commit suicide and abandon his faith in God.
Did God hold a grudge against her? After the troubles passed and Job was healed, did God hold her wrong confession against her? Did He hold back any blessing from her because of her very human outburst of fear? No! God blessed that lady! I believe God understood her. He knew she didn't mean what she said! He looked beyond her frailty and saw the cry of her heart and He blessed her in spite of herself.
"Lord, if you keep in mind our sins then who can ever get an answer to his prayers? But you forgive! What an awesome thing this is..." (Psalm 130:3,4 LB).
"He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins...he is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him...for he knows we are but dust..." (Psalm 103:10, 13 LB).
"You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercies..." (James 5:11).
"He feels pity for the weak and needy, and will rescue them..." (Psalm 72:12 LB).
Don't ever be condemned by the things you said in haste or in fear. We serve a Father who forgives and forgets every doubting, fearful word that has been spoken in despair. Be honest with God. Job's wife was. Don't fake it. If you can't understand why your prayers aren't answered, or why you have to suffer if your heart is full of questions, fears, and confusion tell it to God! Spill out your innermost feelings, negative or not. Our Father will let you cry it all out, listen patiently to your complaints and fears, and not once will He condemn you for it.
All you need to is turn to Him in love and cry out, "Now Lord, heal my unbelief. Take away my fears and confusion. Show me Your love, now that I need it so. Help me submit."
The God I serve holds no grudges.
I hear it said, "You have sin in your life; therefore God is hiding from you." What a clever Satanic tool to keep God's people in fear and bondage! And surprisingly, multitudes of God's dear children have convinced themselves that God is either mad at them, hiding from them, or at least holding back answers to prayer - because of sin.
Doesn't the Bible say, "Your sins have separated you from God, and caused Him to hide His face from you"? Yes it does! In the Old Testament, before the Cross, before the shedding of Christ's blood for the free remission of all sins of the world.
How can God hide from sins already paid for by the blood of His own Son? And, if any man sin, Christ the advocate will forgive all those sins and cleanse from all unrighteousness.
If you have truly confessed the sins of yesterday, they are forgiven, under the blood, and no longer counted against you!
For the Christian who sins are blotted out, delayed answers, suffering, tests, and trials are usually the result of loving chastisement and not sin. The Bible says,
"He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to chasten him..." (Proverbs 13:24 ML).
"And have you quite forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his child? He said, 'My son, don't be angry when the Lord punishes you. Don't be discouraged when he has to show you where you are wrong. For when he punishes you, it proves that he loves you. When he whips you it proves you are really his child.'
Let God train you, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. Whoever heard of a son who has never corrected? If God doesn't punish you when you need it, as other fathers punish their sons, then it means that you aren't really God's son at all - that you don't really belong in His family. Since we respect our fathers here on earth, though they punish us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to God's training so that we can begin really to live?
Our earthly fathers trained us for a few brief years, doing the best for us that they knew how, but God's correction is always right and for our best good, that we may share his holiness. Being punished isn't enjoyable while it is happening - it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character.
So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs...! (Hebrews 12:5-12 LB).
I hear people say today, "Yes, the Lord chastens and corrects. But not by way of suffering or pain. God wouldn't do that. Proper faith wouldn't allow it."
The truth is, my friend - all through history, to this very day, godly people have suffered and are even now suffering. To deny that is to deny the truth. Paul tells of the suffering of the early Christians. Shall we accuse them of not having faith?
The truth is that some of the saintliest people living today suffer from cancer, ulcers, rheumatism, heart trouble, etc., etc. I cringe when I hear people say, "They didn't have to be sick. Their faith was weak."
None of these saints who have suffered would trade places with those who have not. Oh, the growth, the depths of God's love discovered, the true values and rearranged priorities that have resulted from suffering. Those who have not suffered with Christ are shallow, self-centered, and they lack the compassion that only comes from having met the Lord in the midst of some fiery furnace of trial. There is also an impatient kind of arrogance about people who have never suffered.
I once refused to accept the term, "chosen to suffer." I was appalled by the idea that God allowed some to suffer more than others, to help bring them into a deeper knowledge of Himself. But then I look at those who suffer - and often they are the most faithful, trusting, loving of all God's children. Truly, they are chosen vessels.
I know some will be offended by what I've just said. And that is because we have strayed so far from the realities of Christ's Gospel. We are so spoiled, so self-pampering, we forget that the call of Christ is to separation, tests, trials, yes - and even suffering. Proof? Yes! Much proof!
"But the Lord said, Paul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the nations...And I will show him how much he must suffer for me..." (Acts 9:15, 16 LB).
"Moses...thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt...he chose to suffer with God's people...rather than enjoy pleasure..." (Hebrews 11:26 LB).
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake..." (Philippians 1:28).
1. If you can't give God perfect faith, give Him perfect love. "Perfect love casts out all fear."
Not perfect faith - but perfect love. Perfect love is the rest God has for His people. He wants us to rest in His love, trusting that He will always come to our aid as a father to a hurting child in spite of our inadequate faith.
Stop evaluating or grading your faith. Quite trying to figure out faith. The Bible says,
"There are three things that remain - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love...So follow after love (1 Corinthians 13:13, 14 LB).
If you are going to "specialize" in anything - make it love. The Bible says, "Faith works by love." Without love, all faith is in vain.
2. If God does not answer certain of our prayers, you can be sure He has some great eternal reason for not doing so.
It boils down to this: God has all power and can do anything. Nothing is impossible to Him. He has promised to answer every prayer in Christ's name. So we must ask, in full assurance of faith - expecting an answer. But should God delay that answer or choose another path for us - He must have a mighty good reason for it all. And we must believe that whatever God permits in our lives - it will one day all work to our good.
"All things work together for good to those who love him, and who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Our Heavenly Father knows exactly where we are going, what we need, and He will give us what is best - in proper Holy Ghost timing.
"If you being earthly know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11).
We live within the shadow of the Almighty sheltered by the God who is above all gods. This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he rescues you from every trap, and protects you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. Now you don't need to be afraid of the dark any more, nor fear the dangers of the day; nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning...
For the Lord says, "Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. When he calls on me I will answer; I will be with him in trouble, and rescue him and honor him. I will satisfy him with a full life and give him my salvation" (Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 LB).