I used to think my best testimony was when I told someone that God did this miracle or another in me or around me. I supposed the best way to introduce people to God were stories of divine intervention and deliverance . While those are good, I’d say that if he always took all my suffering away I’d only have a testimony of a God who makes things better for us; not in itself a “bad” testimony, but one which has a shorter shelf life.
Don’t get me wrong; God often intervenes miraculously in my life and when he does I tell people about it. But when he doesn’t take the pain away but sustains me instead, I’m just as stoked to share that as a testimony of his goodness. Most people who have little more than a vague notion of God have no trouble believing he’s all powerful, but that revelation won’t necessarily bring them any closer to him. It’s when they begin to believe he’s all good that they’re moving in the direction of knowing him as their Friend and Savior.
I’m saying that if he delivers me I’ll get to tell the story of it over and over about how he came to my rescue, and that’s good. But the intervention fades farther and farther away from the event itself at every telling and may lose more and more steam each time. But if I share with people that God feels my pain and walks with me in it, the testimony stays fresh and present in the telling. It doesn’t lose its strength as time elapses, because it’s always current. “I’m in pain, but he’s sustaining me today…”
In addition to it keeping my testimony fresh, it might help others want to know a God who acts this way with those he loves. If he always takes away our pain and we tell it, people might want to possess a God like that, but might not be inspired to know and love a God like that. If they hear that he delivered us, our hearers are more likely to want in on the action, get a piece of that God who can make their lives better and easier. But if they learn that he weeps with us and help us endure, the effect might be more of an advertisement for a potential Lover than simply Miracle Worker. Their attraction might be to the God who feels more than just the one who fixes things, if you get my drift.
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6)
A woman looking for a husband might not want to limit her search to men who are general contractors who can work on the house or doctors who can treat the family sicknesses or to lawyers who can take care of her legal problems. Those things might come in the package as a bonus and be a blessing to her, but she’s going to be more inclined to find a man who loves her and to whom she can give her heart. I wonder when we present God primarily as the Great Fixer of Problems if our “converts” only hang around him so they can use him but never so they can love him.
Could this be one of the reasons why there are so many weak and mercenary “converts,” ones so prone to wander? Could it be because they were led to believe that he could be defined only as the miracle working deliverer and never got to know him also as the compassionate sustainer? Maybe we should rethink our testimony.
What do you think?