About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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When Faith Appears To Fail


I was 18 years old in the summer of 1970.  While at our church's family camp my friends were perplexed over why they didn't see miraculous healings in our church that they read about in the Bible.  I knew miracles still happened.  Jesus healed me of Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 5, but that was 14 years earlier.  So, after 24 hours of prayer and fasting we mustered up every ounce of faith we could find among ourselves.  We were convinced that I'd leave the Friday healing service with 20/ 20 vision, but I didn't.  What do you do when faith appears to fail?

 

My dad walked me to an altar for healing every chance he had when I was young.  The results were always the same.  I'd return to the pew as legally blind as I ever was.  After coming of age in the Lord in 1970 I continued walking the path in search of my healing.  Although I don't believe in Biblical formulas for healing, I tried anything that looked Biblical, except for one.  I've never had anyone, at least not yet, spit into dirt and rub a muddy mixture into my eyes.  I've jumped over pews just to get closer to Katherine Kuhlman.  I've stood in countless healing lines, been prophesied over, had demons cast out of me, and was told of visions and dreams predicting my healing.  I've named it, claimed it, and stood on my so-called Biblical rights as a King's kid.  I've tolerated well meaning folk of faith who enthusiastically laid hands on me to claim my instantaneous healing.  I've been told that I don't have the faith to be healed by those wearing glasses.  So what really is faith anyway?

 

The Greek word "pistis" is translated as "faith" in the English New Testament while the Greek word "pisteuo" is translated as "to believe".  These words mean trust, as in, I trust Jesus with my life.  Faith is trust.  It's that simple. 

 

Trust is a passive action.  It's not an aggressive action.  When you plop yourself down on your couch to watch television, you don't muster up trust from deep within in the hope that your couch won't collapse to the floor when you sit on it.  You trust your couch as you plop yourself down and relax.  This is what Hebrews 4:3 means when it says that those who believe (trust) have "entered into rest".  Faith is trust and trust is rest.  That's why faith is passive, although with active implications.  

 

When the Bible says "whosoever believes will be saved" it isn't saying "whosoever can muster up sufficient faith will be saved."  It's saying "whosoever trusts his life with Jesus will be saved."  Faith as it applies to Jesus is resting in His ability to save you.  It's not an aggressive process of digging up faith from deep within.  It's not a mental gymnastics mind game that attempts to trick your mind into believing you are healed when you're not.  I'm legally blind.  I don't cross a street believing I see oncoming cars when in fact I don't.  I don't claim a traffic light to be green by faith.  I do, however, trust my life with Jesus as I cross a street.    

 

Daniel 3:17 and 18 is my foundation to faith and healing.  The Babylonian king decreed that everyone must worship his golden statue, something three Jewish men refused to do.  "If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.  But even if He does not rescue us we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods and worship the gold statue you have set up (HCSB)."  These men exhibited faith in God.  They trusted their lives with Him whether He rescued them from the fire or whether He allowed them to be burned alive.  

 

The words "but even if He doesn't " suggests doubt to some, but it shouldn't.  These words actually express a genuine faith in God that death can't destroy.  The martyred saints of Revelation 12:11 had the same trust in Jesus.  "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (NIV)."   

 

My mother named me Stephen after the martyred Stephen found in Acts 7.  My life certainly does not compare with that Stephen, but I do admire his faith.  As the stones were being hurled at him he trusted his life with Jesus.  Unlike the three Jewish men in Daniel who God rescued from the fire, Jesus did not rescue Stephen from the stones.  His faith in Jesus led him to his death, but he did not die alone.  "Look, I see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55 - 56 NIV)."  Stephen possessed genuine faith.  He trusted Jesus whether Jesus rescued him from the stones or allowed the stones to smash his life away.   

 

The Apostle Peter associated faith with grief
stricken trials.  "Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith may be proven genuine (1 Peter 1: 6 - 7 NIV)."  Those with genuine faith will experience trials that test the validity of their trust in Jesus.  Faith doesn't solve all your problems.  It can actually lead you into problems.  

 

Besides all of the above, we as humans have no capacity to trust our lives with Jesus as we should.  The Apostle Paul said that God "distributes" (NIV) faith to each of us (Romans 12:6).  In other words, our ability to trust Jesus comes from Him, not us.  Faith is not a natural resource we can dig up from deep within.   

 

How do I deal with an apparent failure of faith?  I don't call it a failure.  I trust Jesus despite the apparent failure, although it is a struggle at times.  I understand that faith is not a commodity I can get more of.  Faith is relying on Jesus to help me trust him more than I presently do.  I know Jesus can heal me but if He chooses not to I will still trust Him and rest in His will.  

 

 

Post Script

 

For clarity sake, even though Jesus has not healed me of my poor vision, He has provided many other miracles to compensate for the lack of healing to date. That's the way He has helped me throughout my 64 years of my life so far. For example, on 2 particular occasions He has miraculously, and I'm not exaggerating, stepped into my life and saved me from serious injury or possible death when crossing a street. Ninety percent plus of visually impaired and blind people in Canada do not own a home of their own due to lack of employment and finances. Again, without going into details, I've had a number of real miracles that have enabled me to own my own home for 32 years. These are just 2 examples of how Jesus has looked after me. There are more examples but I'll leave those for another day. Suffice to say that Jesus will look after those in whatever way He sees fit who trust their lives with Him. It's important to know that being a Christian is more than trusting Jesus for salvation.  It's a matter of trusting Jesus with all of who you are. That's Biblical faith.

 

 

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