When Your Faith Doesn’t Get The Answers You Want
I have faith. I have faith to believe God can do anything and I constantly ask Him to answer my prayers. I have faith for God to do miracles, which I have seen in my life and in the lives of others. However, my faith to believe for certain things have not turned out like I want or is taking way longer than I expect.
Why is that? I mean Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”
So I was puzzled that my reality didn’t always measure up to what I understood in the Scriptures. But then I came across something in Hebrews 11:33-39 that helped me a lot.
Before I share this passage, a little back story regarding the chapter itself. Hebrews, chapter 11 is called the faith chapter because it lists numerous Old Testament people who by their faith in God saw untold miracles. The list of stories take up the first 31 verses. Sandwiched in this text is verse 6, which tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. Yet, verses 33-39 surprise us regarding the issue of faith and results.
It is a long passage, but worth reading here. “By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from the dead.” Let me stop at this point and call this part of the passage and the people in it, group A. Everything you read confirms what we have been talking about. These people have faith and wonderful answers to prayer occur.
But let’s continue with the passage. “But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world. They wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All of these people we have mentioned received God’s approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.” We will call these people, group B.
Now notice both groups have faith that is unquestioned. Yet group A gets miracles and group B gets trials and tribulations. So why is that? I mean I always want to be in group A. Who in their right mind would want to vote to be in group B?
If everyone has faith and some get their prayers answered and others don’t, it can’t be an issue of faith. Secondly, it can’t be that God loves the people in group A, more than group B. Everyone who comes to Jesus as their savior and is a child of God is loved by God.
So the reason is, are you ready, we don’t know. So what is the value of having faith if we aren’t assured of having our prayers answered? This much I do know, if I don’t have faith then I will never experience a miracle. In other words, no faith, no results! If I am not guaranteed that faith will always get what I am asking for, how do I respond?
This is where another virtue comes into play. The virtue of faithfulness. What this means is I will continue to trust and have faith, even if I don’t see the results I want. Faithfulness says I will believe to the very end regardless of what happens.
We see this exemplified in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel, chapter 3. These three Jews would not bow down to the heathen king’s order to worship the gold statue he set up. The king, Nebuchadnezzar decided to throw them in a blazing furnace for their disobedience. Their response is telling. They tell the king that God can save them from the flames of the furnace. This is faith. But then they tell Nebuchadnezzar that even if God doesn’t rescue them, they still won’t worship the image. In essence they accept the fate of dying. This is faithfulness.
Since last May I have had one health issue after another happen to me. I almost died in the initial heart surgery I had, but God spared my life. For me this is group A. But since then I had major complications, all taken care of, and other different health issues one after another. As I write this I am dealing with a problem not yet resolved.
I have faith and pray every day for God’s complete healing. I also determine to keep going forward and being faithful in dealing with my afflictions. Some days like the Psalmist I complain to God, but still keep praying. I don’t know the outcome, but I know this much: I serve a good and faithful God. Amen!