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by Jacob Ninan
I was talking to a friend whose wife was diagnosed with metastatic cancer with a very poor prognosis. Many people were praying for her, but her condition was only becoming worse. He told me that Jesus was going to heal her completely because when He was on earth He healed everyone who came to Him. I am one who believes in a miracle working God who answers prayers and I was praying for her healing myself, but I was concerned that he should not come crashing down if the expected miracle did not happen. I suggested to him that perhaps he could take the position of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who believed that God was able to deliver them from the fire but were willing to consider the possibility that for some reason He might not. My friend told me that he was sure he was not going to be put to shame.
I was in a kind of a dilemma, because I could not be 100% sure that my friend’s faith was not a genuine assurance from God, even though his wife was becoming worse.
This is a rather common scene among Christians. Sometimes it is a clash between those who believe and those who do not. But at other times it is between those who believe! There is a lot of confusion among Christians regarding ‘faith,’ ‘belief,’ etc. But I also think many Christians unconsciously use ‘faith’ as a defence mechanism to temporarily cope with distressful situations they cannot handle otherwise.
If we use ‘faith’ as a defence mechanism we take a defensive posture. My friend stuck "No disaster will come near your tent" on his door. We vehemently resist anyone who questions our faith and will strictly avoid hearing, speaking or thinking of anything that might diminish our ‘faith.’ We tend to overdo wanting to be ‘positive’ even to the extent of saying ‘lies.’ My friend told me, "She is getting better," after the doctor had told him otherwise. We are not happy to meet people who might diminish our faith, and we try to limit the knowledge of the real situation only to a few ‘trusted’ people. Once we take this position it is practically impossible to penetrate the armour, and the others can only keep praying and waiting.
A faith and trust in God who can do anything is different from knowing what He is going to do in different situations, because He varies His methods according to the situation and the people involved. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as a Person, but it does not mean He does the same things in the same way always. The only things we can be sure of are those He has promised specifically. But even in such cases there may be conditions attached to the promises and the promises may not be for all people at all times. Such faith for specific things comes by ‘hearing’ God specifically (Rom.10:17). But many try to have ‘faith’ by working up their thoughts and emotions till they feel ‘assured’ of getting what they want. When God gives an assurance, there is peace and rest along with it.
Christians do not agree among themselves on whether the ‘gift of healing’ is available now, but we do see many healings taking in place in answer to prayer. At the same time there are also many times when prayers are not answered with healing. Is not the ultimate faith to believe in God who can do all things, who loves us without measure and who has infinite wisdom to always know what is best, to make our requests known to Him, and to trust Him to do what is best for us and what honours Him the most?
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