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“Faith does not hinge on how you feel but rather on who God is.” ~ Phillip Manchester
WHEN FAITH SEEMS TO FAIL
Devotions and spiritual leadership often focus on light, life, joy and prosperity. But what do you do when you have stood for something, waiting on the Lord for a long time and don’t see anything that causes you to hope for its coming to pass? Have you stood when it seemed like you would fall endlessly down a deep and dank hole? How do you respond to God when He prompts you to pray for that thing one more time? Do you pray empty, religious words that come from your head because your heart is not believing the answer will come this time or do you pray as He leads you in this particular need on that day?
I was asking God this question last night on a long drive home: what do you tell people who say they don’t have faith for something anymore? What do you tell those people who are not only not seeing anything change but everything either remains the same or is continually getting worse? After a time of silent waiting, a scripture came to my heart that says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.”
I responded to God again by asking, “How do you minister this to someone who has no trust in You anymore; people who no longer believe you will be coming through for them in this area anymore? What about when they have something they are hoping for and they have watched everything fall to pieces around them so while they trust you for other things; bigger or smaller, they can’t trust you to care for them in this one thing anymore.
And His response was worth shouting about. He said, “Because no one or no thing is big enough or powerful enough to stop me and my promises from being fulfilled.” That means there really is no power: on the earth, in the heavens, or under the earth in hell that can stop God from fulfilling even one of His promises.
Then people from the Bible came to my mind. Mile after mile on the highway, my heart was flooded with people who could have easily given up on God for a particular need.
When the evil man Haman rose up with a satanic hatred in his heart for the Jews, he was not immediately brought down. But he was brought down. (Esther was born for this time in Jewish history)
When Herod rose up with jealousy to possess all the land and people of Israel, God didn’t stop him in one swift stroke of His hand. But in due season, Herod was removed.
Even Saul of Tarsus, persecuting and killing Christians in his zeal to keep the law of God - as he interpreted it - was not stopped after killing one person. His rampage went on for a while, killing many. In Acts 9, on his way to Damascus to collect people there that were believers in Jesus being the Messiah, God fell on Him and transformed his life.
Although these people were radical examples of violence, hatred, jealousy, and death, they all had one common thread. God’s perfect will was never for these men to behave in this manner. But since they chose to walk the road that they did and to live the life that they saw best suited for themselves, God promised to intervene: to deliver Israel. And He ALWAYS came through.
Your need may be for deliverance from an abusive relationship. It may be direction in a career or ministry. It could be that there is someone who is opposing the very work and words that the Lord spoke to you. It could be for a physical or emotional healing. Regardless of what the need is, one thing holds true and God Himself spoke it: “Because no one or no thing is big enough or powerful enough to stop me and my promises from being fulfilled.”
I don’t know what you are facing today. I don’t know how long you have stood. And I don’t know if you have any faith left at all because you have waited so long and nothing has ever gotten any better. But I can tell you this. If the scriptures don’t bring you any comfort (like “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen”) then you can be honest with God. He knows your heart anyway.
Tell Him that you need Him to breathe life back into this thing. Tell him that you still love Him but that you have watched faith for this thing shrink into nothing and now it seems that you have nothing left.
But there is something left. Deep inside of you, the Holy Spirit is watching over your spirit. Deep inside of you, in a place your mind cannot go, there is a mustard seed you can’t see or feel. Deep inside your heart – past the fears, doubts, and disappointments is a word from God. And He can cause it to grow again.
Consider the people of Israel who had a death edict from Haman. Many were poised to die and many more did not know that there was a woman in the palace named Esther who God was raising up to bring about their deliverance. They had no idea what God was going to do. They weren’t even sure there was a plan from heaven in the making. All they knew was that without a miracle, they would all die.
Consider again the suffering Israel lived under during the reign of Herod. He reminds me a lot of Saddam Hussein. Many people were tortured and murdered in his regime. Babies were even slaughtered out of his jealous desire to protect his throne. During all these years, no one knew that God was even listening to their cries anymore. Herod seemed only to grow in power. But God had already made a promise to Israel and in due season, like Hussein, Herod’s days of power and terror ended.
Then there was Saul of Tarsus. Anyone who converted to the Christian faith converted with the knowledge that it would possibly, or probably, cause their death or the death of a loved one. There were men, Pharisees and Sadducees who had a fearless leader named Saul whose only mission in life at this time was to root out any “heretics” and bring them to justice: prison, beatings, and many times death.
And as Saul got his death papers ready for the Christians of Damascus, the church was praying. Some of those in that prayer meeting had lost loved ones at the hand of Saul. Others had been beaten by him themselves. They bore the scars on their bodies. When they prayed, perhaps their faith wavered – or maybe not. But the important thing is that the Holy Spirit inside of them prayed all the more earnest and God answered – in due season. And Saul was miraculously saved by encountering none other than Jesus Himself as he traveled to arrest His believers.
Could someone have thought, “Why did God answer then and not when my loved ones were being killed? We prayed then. Why now?”
But the only answer that will keep us all on the road to life and liberty to Christ is this: God heard every prayer. He knew the fate of every man and woman and child. So why didn’t He stop Saul before Damascus? Only God knows. But I have learned to be content with that. I make myself content. I refuse to make up a theological theory about God and His reasons when sometimes I have to just accept that there are things I can’t understand this side of heaven. And neither can you.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. If you can learn to be content with what you don’t understand about God then you will open yourself up to become a man or woman with greater faith than you ever thought possible.
God will meet your needs. He will always fulfill His promises. Your part is just to be content with not understanding a God whose vast knowledge and power are beyond our comprehension
That is the greatest step to growing in faith and power in Christ. That alone will keep your faith strong until the promise comes to pass – and it will come to pass!
Living for the Call,
Michelle Molina Himel