“We All Prayed And We Believed, But He Died”-Part 2
A Challenging Perspective
In Part 1 we talked about dealing with the disappointing experience of fighting so hard for someone’s healing, and then seeing them die. We talked about the scriptural role of faith, and why it is so hard for us to admit when we struggle with unbelief.
The perspective shared in Part 1 is so challenging that it may seem it would be very discouraging. You may see a person who you know to have great faith lay hands on someone who is not healed, and think “You means so-and-so didn’t have faith for that person? If he can’t have faith for them, how can I?” Yet remember how many people Jesus’ disciples had already healed, and Jesus still told them that they failed to heal the epileptic boy because of their unbelief. Are we to look first to even the apostles (who according to scripture often didn’t have God’s perspective), or are we to look to Jesus? If Jesus told the apostle Peter (who raised the dead and walked on water) that it was because of his unbelief that he failed to cure an epileptic boy, then why is it so difficult to imagine that we may not have been successful because of unbelief?
Growing In Christ
As I have wrestled with these issues, this is how I have come to see it in a way that encourages me and keeps me going. Here are a few scriptures to consider:
Ephesians 3:15-21 (NRSV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4:12-13 (NRSV) …for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 (KJV) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NRSV) And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
I ask myself some questions based on these scriptures. Have I come to the “measure of the full stature of Christ” yet? Or do I still have room to grow? Is one of the “all things” in Christ, which I am growing in, faith? Am I currently “filled with all the fullness of God”, not just in my spirit, but flooding my soul, emotions, and my whole body?
Moses’ face glowed with the glory of God which he was beholding, yet we have been given a much great and far surpassing glory. Is my face constantly glowing as I look to the Lord, reflecting his glory? It can be. I have had experiences where I was so filled with the Lord’s glory that it seemed like my face was beginning to glow, radiant. People stared at me. It felt as if currents of God’s love were flowing constantly through my body. Yet how consistently do I walk in that way? I’ve barely begun to walk in all that is possible in Christ.
Am I currently manifesting the love, goodness, peace, and glory of the Lord to the fullest degree possible, or is there room for me to grow? Is there a greater degree to which I can manifest the Lord’s glory?
I think the answers are obvious. Of course I have a lot of room to grow! When I look at it in this way, it doesn’t seem so scandalous to say that I have a need to grow in faith! I see things from the perspective that faith comes out of communion with God. Growing in faith is part of growing in the Lord. When I think like this, there is no more mental anguish with wheels turning constantly in my head, wondering, “Why weren’t they healed?” It doesn’t make sense to think that way anymore. In fact, I am amazed by the wonderful miracles that already happened even as I barely began to walk in all that is possible in Christ.
I don’t wonder why anyone wasn’t healed, but I know that they can be, as I look to the Lord and the manifestation of God’s goodness and glory through my life increases, flooding out through my spirit as I drink of the Living Waters of life!
Continual Increase Of Life In The Lord
John 4:14 (NRSV) …but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
John 7:38 (NRSV)…let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”
We see increase in these verses and throughout scripture’s teaching about our life with God. There is a continual increase. When we drink of the Lord’s goodness, it becomes a spring of water which gushes up until it becomes rivers flowing from our hearts. We go from “one degree of glory to another.”
The kind of faith that Jesus’ talked about was faith in God, and faith in God comes from intimate experience with Him and His goodness. It comes out of the knowledge of the Lord. And we are “growing in the knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:10).” As Ephesians 3:16 says, we are being “strengthened in our inner being by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Real faith comes from a heart that has become strong through communion with God, until it is bursting with strength!
Proverbs 4:18 (NRSV) But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
This is encouraging because faith is not hit-and-miss. For faith to be a hit-and-miss thing that works sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t, is discouraging! If it were so, then sometimes there would just be nothing that I could do. But the fact that faith is something that we grow in as we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, is encouraging. It is encouraging because more is possible in the Lord than I have ever experienced before.
I’m not helpless. I can look to the Lord, I can grow in faith, and I can learn to stand firm. It is the idea that I am helpless and “I’ve done all I can but now it is up to the Lord” that is discouraging.
God Is Faithful. He Is The Author And Perfecter Of Our Faith
In the end we win! Even if there are battles that we lose in this life, we have the hope of the resurrection from the dead! But what is really encouraging when I see faith from the perspective of growing in the knowledge of the Lord, is I know that God will be faithful to complete the good work that he has started in me!
Phillipians 1:6 (NRSV) I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Look at this:
Romans 8:29-31 (NRSV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
We are predestined to be conformed to Christ in character. But Romans 8:29 also applies to being conformed to the image of Christ in power and in doing the same works that Jesus did. John 14:12 makes this clear.
John 14:12 (NRSV) Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
I know God will be faithful to complete what he started in me, so I’m not going to give up and get discouraged if I fight for someone’s healing and end up losing the fight. Don’t decide that you’re going to give up and never get in this fight again. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help you and bring you to victory!
Faith is like lifting weights. You get stronger by straining until your muscles actually tear a little bit. When that happens each time they heal they are stronger. Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep looking to the Lord, growing in him, keeping your eyes on Christ. Be strengthened with all the might that comes from his glorious power, as you are rooted and grounded in love! Never stop!
Hebrews 12:2 (ASV) … looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith…
Greater things are ahead of you! God is faithful! Your part is to keep going and keep obeying the gospel. God’s part is to pour out his abundant grace on you and perfect what he has started in you, and he will do it!
Next week I will share two stories of remarkable recoveries from serious conditions. They should encourage you if you have been discouraged by losing someone who you fought for.