Heartache or disappointment can unexpectedly hit our lives every bit as hard as a physical blow. When that happens and we manage to catch our breath, we begin to wonder: “Why?” “What did I do?” or, “What’s wrong with me?” The problem with such questions is that many times there is no logical answer. We want to come to grips with some understanding in the hope of “fixing” the problem. We forget the real problem, that we live in a broken and corrupt world that has rejected God’s goodness. I believe the better question that God has challenged me with gets more to the point: “Kathie, will you trust Me with this?” It is in our willingness to trust God with our hurts that the companion question arises, “How strong is your faith?”
There was a time when I desired the faith of the Roman centurion because he so impressed Jesus. As a new believer, I wanted to impress Jesus too. Over time I came to realize that my motive was about feeding my pride, a far cry from what Jesus so delighted in when the centurion approached Him saying:“Lord . . . my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He was astonished and said to those following Him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. (Matthew 8:6-10, 13)
I may have craved the faith of the centurion but I did not appreciate that it was his love for his servant and the humility he demonstrated that were so precious. Also, the centurion demonstrated a respect and confidence in Jesus’ ability to heal his servant that must have been like a refreshing breeze, delighting the heart of God’s Son.
While I continue to desire the faith of the centurion, I must confess that my faith is often more in tune with the father who sought healing for his son in Mark 9:“. . . if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (verses 22b-24)
Jesus did not send the father away saying, “Come back when you have your spiritual ducks in a row!” No, Jesus healed the son. I confess that often, when facing those reeling times when I can’t make sense of things that have happened to me, it is Jesus’ response to second man that encourages my heart as I pray: “Lord, I believe . . . help me in my unbelief!”
The thing that I have come to appreciate about faith (great and small) is that it is a miracle granted to us by a gracious and loving God.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“ (Ephesians 2:8)
As I look at the interactions between Jesus and both men I marvel at His kindness in meeting them where they were (and where they weren’t) in their faith and am comforted.
Over time I have learned that to answer God’s question with, “Yes Lord, I will trust you,” has been the largest contributor to strengthening my faith. Are you looking to strengthen yours? Then remember the miraculous gift that your faith is as you trust Him with the challenges you face.
All to His Glory!