Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Faith Becomes An Enemy - Bread of Life Adventure 4-27-15

I had the privilege of praying over someone yesterday that was as discouraged as any I have encountered.  Her story is one where her health has failed her all at once and she finds herself all alone and is not even able to get out of her house anymore.  She feels trapped physically, and tapped financially.

In addition to these struggles her once strong faith had now become her enemy? She grew up in the Pentecostal church teaching that if you had enough faith you could see health and prosperity come to your life.  You could see healing and financial gains if you only believe strong enough.  This is called the word of faith movement that has swept through Pentecostal churches around the world.  It leaves in its wake the poor and the sick left in the margins to suffer alone in their affliction with this reality, "Their faith just wasn't enough.  If only they had more faith."

When your faith is the problem, where do you go to get help?  When every source of help demands more faith than you can muster, what are you left with?  Despair, guilt, and loneliness become the consolation prizes.  What are the answers from scripture?  Well I told her that Christ suffered and that most of the disciples did as well.  Were they lacking in faith?  That Christ ended up with nothing in the way of material possessions and the disciples didn't either.  But the words that ministered to her the most to break the chains of guilt and despair were these,  "Was Jesus faith lacking, when He asked His Father if there was any way for this cup to pass.  Followed by, not my will, but your will be done.  Did Jesus lack faith when He prayed since His request wasn't answered according to his will?"

She chuckled to herself and said emphatically, "No!"  A glimmer of relief from her self condemnation began to enter into her face.  The fresh thought that she could believe again that God still loved her even though she was still very sick.  The very thing that had been taken from her began to be restored, her faith.  What does faith in the midst of suffering look like became our discussion.  Well for one, she is in no pain, yet her condition should be producing much pain.  There was a thankfulness for this blessing in the midst of her suffering.  But there still needed to be a restoring of purpose.  This woman knew how to pray and even knew what people needed praying for, yet was disconnected from those prayers because her faith had been so damaged.  She still had the great purpose of having uninterrupted time for being a prayer warrior.  Doing battle in the spiritual realms.  Many of us are so distracted in our lives, she claimed no such distractions as she had nothing but time to pass in her day.  She was encouraged that God didn't have to restore her health and finances to restore purpose to her life.  There was a great smile on her face as we prayed over her to become a great prayer warrior in a community that needs much prayer.

There was one more piece that needed to be restored.  Had all my prayers been in vain, why hadn't God healed me?  The answer to this question brought much peace.  "Paul's words that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ and that to live is Christ and to die is gain."  She worried about a day when her body had died and she just lay in the ground waiting.  She couldn't see that this life and this body is just temporary.  That one day God would make all things NEW!  That death is not something for Christians to fear, but that while we live our lives have purpose and when we die the culmination of our deliverance and salvation are made complete.  Scripture tells us that we are made into the likeness of Christ with new and glorified bodies!  http://goo.gl/3nZ0o3 for a quick link to verses that discuss this more.

God doesn't have to answer our prayers in this short and temporary life to truly be good.  Sometimes he allows suffering, that it might produce a sweet bounty of joy in the midst of the suffering when we find that He is still enough.  And that there can be Joy, unexplainable Joy, even when suffering comes our way through Christ.

In fact I ask you what would make heaven sweeter for you, to be healed and blessed financially in this short life and the next, or for the trials and suffering in this life to be washed away for eternity when you meet Christ face to face and your salvation is made complete in Him?

Read Mark 5 and be blessed by the hope when we encounter Christ face to face, but don't make the mistake that many do from this passage that faith only believes for healing in the present and not also in the future.  We prayed for God to heal her, but also rested in not our will, but your will be done Lord on earth as it is in heaven;

5:21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live." 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" 31 And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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