Another lesson in trust…
“Is God going to answer my prayer and grant my request? The Bible says not to doubt, and others are saying that they’re believing that it’ll happen. But how do they know? And do they really know or do they mean that they’re just hoping God will move the way they want Him to? After all, sometimes He doesn’t move the way we ask. Am I wrong if I’m honest with myself and admit that I don’t know if God is going to do it or not?”
Ever been there? I have, many times, and the confusion that results can be debilitating and make you question everything. I’ve at times gotten so lost in a circle of vicious questions that I can hardly find the way out. I’ve found myself wondering if I had enough faith or not and if my lack of faith might someone result in someone else’s lack of healing or breakthrough, etc. I’ve wondered if faith had anything to do with why my mom died years ago from cancer, and I’ve wondered many similar things in the years since.
But then the Holy Spirit taught me this pivotal lesson in trust that totally changed my perspective and brought me peace. (If you want to know why I say “Holy Spirit” instead of “God,” see this post.)
The Holy Spirit used two stories.
The first is in Daniel chapter three, when the angry king demanded that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego bow before his image and worship it. They refused, and their answer is very powerful and significant. They did not say, “We will worship God only, and we’re believing that He is going to save us.”
No. They said, “We will worship God only. We know He is able to save us from your fiery furnace. But even if He does not, we still will not serve your gods or worship your image.”
According to some, this admitting that they did not know if He would do as they were asking was doubt… doubt that can stop the miracle from coming. But not only does this not happen, the Bible even refers to them as being of great faith! (Hebrews 11:34 briefly includes them (not by name) in the list of those who were great in faith.)
The Holy Spirit used this story to show me that it is perfectly okay to not know what God will do. It does not display a lack of faith! Sometimes He shows us what He’s going to do and gives us the gift of faith to simply know. And many times He does not. We cannot even claim that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s faith is why they were saved from the furnace, for Hebrews 11 goes on to say that others were tortured and killed by faith. In fact, Hebrews 11 shows quite clearly that whether or not someone is saved from death is not dependent upon how much faith they have, for verse 34 says that some escaped the sword and then verse 37 says that others were put to death by the sword… and then 39 says, “And all these, (meaning both those who were put to death and those who escaped) gained approval through their faith…” So then, if some escape by their faith and others do not escape and endure by their faith… then we see that our faith and trust have to be in something other than in the answer that we want God to give.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s faith and focus was not on what God might or might not do. Their focus was on the character of God… who He is… what He is capable of… and who He was to them no matter what He chose to do or not do.
He was their God. They knew He was able to save them, but they didn’t really care whether He did or not, because they had committed their worship to Him and Him alone… regardless of whether or not He chose to save them.
We see the same thing in Mark 9:20-25. This chapter has many lessons on many things, but I want to focus on the part that the Holy Spirit used to teach me this lesson.
This father was really struggling with the same thing that I used to. His son was afflicted by a demon that caused him to thrash about and foam at the mouth, and so far, his son had not been healed. The father said to Jesus, “If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
Jesus saw that the man’s focus was on the wrong thing. He was focused on whether or not his son would be healed. Jesus brought his focus around by asking, “If you can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
The Holy Spirit pointed out that Jesus was not asking, “Do you or don’t you think I’m actually going to do it?”
See the difference? Maybe the difference isn’t significant to you, but to me, it was a life-changing difference. Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, my faith and trust shouldn’t be focused on what might or might not happen. Jesus was saying, “Do you or don’t you believe that I am able to do this?” Another way of putting it might be to say, “Stop thinking about whether or not I’ll do what you want and instead think about who I am!”
My focus needs to be on who He is.
How did the man talking to Jesus respond? “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
The man made no pretensions at all about his faith or lack thereof. I believe his statement, “I do believe” was nothing more or less than an affirmation that Yes, he did believe that Jesus was able to do it. That much, at least, he was convinced of. Even more importantly, he did not pretend to have the ability to increase his faith on his own. He knew that not only was Jesus the One who could deliver his son, but Jesus was also the One who could help his unbelief.
And so I shifted my focus. I realized that I do not need to know what He will do to trust Him.
But I do have to know Him.
If I was not fully convinced of His power, then I could not trust Him any more than I could trust some unknown man’s ability to do anything. If I did not truly believe that He has perfect knowledge of how to use that power, then His power might be something to fear… for what if He used that power in the wrong way? And if His love was not perfect and complete and compassionate and unending, then again, how would I possible trust that His knowledge and power would be used in only the way that was best for me?
And so we see that the foundation of trust is who He is. What He does is always the result of who He is, and my ability to trust Him is dependent upon my revelation and understanding of His nature.
If you feel like your trust is lacking, simply follow the example of the man who turned His focus to the One who is able. “Lord, show me who You are. I want to know You.”
Next Post in the Lessons in Trust series: Trust vs. my tongue: the eternal battle inside of me