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Pointers along the way #159

God can, but will He?
- Jacob Ninan

Certainly God can do all things. He knows all things, and He can do just whatever He wants. He is God. But will He do all the things that we ask for? Some people proclaim that He will, thinking that Jesus has said as much (Jn.14:14), even though neither they nor anyone else has ever experienced it. The answer seems to be simple. He will not do anything wrong even if we ask for it, and He will do only what is good for us. Sometimes He may just give in to our persistent demands, and let us suffer, just because that is the only way we will learn (Ps.106:15). As a rule He will answer our prayers only if they are according to His will (1Jn.5:14).

But many of us are mixed up. We believe we have faith to receive what we ask God for, because we believe God can do it. We then expect to receive what we ask for. When we expect to receive what we ask for, we think that is yet another mark of faith. This is faith in God as a Person, and in His ability (He.11:6). But we can't still be sure He will give us our request unless we know it is His will.

When we have faith in God, and we know that what we are asking is His will, we can have confidence that He will answer us. We know what His will is, if it is clearly promised in the Bible, if it is meant for people like us and we fulfill whatever conditions are attached to that promise. But not everything we ask for fits into this class. In that case we have no assurance that we will receive it unless we have an additional factor in our faith. That is when God has spoken to us in our heart that He is going to do that for us. Faith comes by hearing God speaking to our heart (Ro.10:17). Then we have an assurance of receiving the things we hope for (He.11:1).

Why we do we claim we have faith for something when we haven't heard from God? Maybe we have seen or heard other people claim to have faith and receive miracles from God, and we like to imitate them. Someone said this is like the Egyptians trying to cross the Red Sea following the children of Israel. That ended in a catastrophe (He.11:29). Perhaps we like to think of ourselves as great men and women of faith and we jump ahead before God has called us. But perhaps it is just that we are not able to distinguish between faith in God, and faith for miracles which is a gift from God, given to some as a ministry, and given to others on occasions.

It is tragic if we imagine we have faith and refuse ordinary means available with us, whether it is medicine for healing or other human help for different situations, and suffer as a consequence. If God hasn't spoken to us and shown us His will in some particular situation it doesn't make us any less spiritual, because that is His sovereign choice. What we have to make sure is that we believe He can if He wants to. We can ask in hope, even if we don't know His will, because God is a good Father. If we don't get it, that's also fine, isn't it? (Da.3:17,18).