Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Anne Lamott
“Trust for a miracle with all your heart” is not exactly what Solomon wrote. He did write, however, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3). Trusting in him helps me live peacefully with the tension between the two “wells” (suffer well and get well). Mature followers of Jesus can hold both ends in tension. Maturity is not having answers to all my questions about God, it’s having unanswered questions – maybe lots of them – and being able to live happily with the paradoxes and mysteries that come with a relationship with him.
My guess is that most people tend to think that the person that gets the most miracles is the one with the “biggest faith.” The proponent of what my friend Mike calls “Super Faith,” argues that the spiritually mature person is the one with the most answered prayers. “Super faith-ers” believe correctly, use the right words in their prayers, and get the “best” results. But to my mind, the most mature faith is the kind which trusts God when you don’t know what’s coming, and don’t claim to know. They don’t know what God’s going to do, but they know that God knows what he’s doing.
Especially since the lights went out on me, I’ve been musing of a faith that is not only a means to an end but an end in and of itself. This kind of faith is not primarily what I do to get stuff from God but what God gives me to facilitate our friendship. Faith isn’t so much a tool that helps me get what I want; it’s what his character inspires in me to be a more faithful follower and friend.
Whether or not I get healed, I trust him more. I’m closer to God and enjoy him more when I trust him for who he is. My faith in him isn’t simply utilitarian, it’s how I relate to him. “Without faith it’s impossible to please him” and the converse is also true, that when I trust him I please him – and that, in turn, brings me pleasure. It must’ve pleased the Lord when Job said, “Though he yet will I trust him.”* In other words, “Even if he doesn’t answer my prayers or give me what I want, and instead gives me something that I don’t want – like him slaying me – I’ll still trust him.”
I’m sure my faith would grow if he healed me outright, and of course I do pray that he will. But it also grows as I wait peacefully. I love and trust him for who he is, not just for what he does for me. I do have implicit confidence in his capability. In a way, that’s easy. All I have to do is gaze at the night sky and observe that he capable of the impossible. In addition to knowing and trusting that he’s capable I’m learning to direct my faith at his character. I think he likes it when we have confidence in his undefeatable power and in his impeccable person.
The one declares, “I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” The other says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” I want both and need both kinds of faith.
Lord, I do believe, but help me with my unbelief!
2 Replies to “What About Faith? (Part 2)”
Thanks for this perspective – very well put! I was just diagnosed with stage three myeloma 2 months ago. Of course, well-meaning folks bombarded me with all kinds of suggestions and approaches I should consider, as well as many sincere prayers, words of encouragement and declarations of healing. At the time, I was simply too exhausted to work myself into some kind of ‘super faith’ mentality, and I told people so. My response was, ‘I know God is good’! I know he loves me, but I don’t have a clear sense in my own heart of what He wants me to believe for as far as a specific outcome. So I’m just going to rest in the fact that others are praying for me, and let those prayers carry me for a while.’ Since that time, an assurance has grown in my heart that I’m going to recover and not die anytime soon. But the reality stands that faith is more about trusting the Person of Jesus than maneuvering for this or that outcome.
Paul, I’m sorry you have to go through the disease as well as the innumerable sure-fire cure suggestions (spiritual and medical). You’re so right; he is good. Nothing changes that. Jesus said, “There’s none good but God,” so since I’m not good, I wouldn’t know good if it slapped me in the face, which it has on several ocassions.
I might commend to you a couple of other essays – “Loving An Unpredictabe God” and “Avoiding the Mediocre Middle”
Click to access Loving_an_Unpredictable_God.pdf
May the Lord be very very close to you in, through, and beyond your trial.