What About Faith? (Part 1)

We can know some of the principles on which God operates and thus can trust him despite appearances, but we are simply not in a position to know most of the relevant facts that would explain the specifics of his interaction in any given instance. Gregory Boyd

I prayed and prayed for my marriage to be healed. It wasn’t. I was pretty discouraged about that for a long time. It still puzzles me sometimes. I’ve prayed just as hard, as have so many others, for my healing from cancer. So far not so good.  Well, at this writing I still have a moderate amount of the disease hiding out in my blood even after enduring the dreaded bone marrow transplant. I’m not complaining, just identifying the reality. 

Some Christians don’t think it’s a good idea to identify reality like this. They equate it with what they call a “negative confession” and a lack of faith, which essentially prevents God from doing any miracles. In their thinking, he would require a more aggressive sort of faith than that in order to dole out my complete healing. I’m all for being positive and for sounding more like Elijah than Eeyore, but the positive confession approach can, in my opinion, be taken way too far.

I know it bothers some when I talk about “suffering well” instead of about “getting well.” There’s definitely a tension there between those two ideas and between two quite disparate camps of Jesus followers who hold exclusively to one or the other of those ideas. Honestly, it bothers me sometimes too when I realize that I don’t have much faith for my total healing. I guess you could say that I don’t have much faith in my faith.

Here are pieces of several journal entries as I struggled with faith…

I really appreciate that so many are trusting you for a miracle and I say “Yes” to their prayers, but honestly I have very little faith for it these days. I’ve been more focused on trusting you for whatever it is you want to do, than in trying to pin you down to a particular outcome. You impressed on me months ago to “trust you” and to “suffer well.” I’m trying to do both of those things and not hold them as mutually exclusive. But if I’m failing you by not having the kind of faith that you require for miraculous interventions, forgive me and adjust my thinking and my believing. I hope I’m not missing your plan by not insisting on a miracle. I hope I’m not displeasing you by focusing on embracing the pain rather than trusting you for relief from it. Lead me Lord!

*                      *                      *

Sometimes it seems that my prayers are bouncing right back to me and not registering in heaven at all.

*                      *                      *

I can’t arrest entropy or push it back even a foot or two… but you can.

*                      *                      *

It seems so random to me when you would heal some people and not others. I’m not faulting you for it; I just don’t understand it. I wonder if that kind of faith is primarily generated by “the gift of faith” – “The sudden surge of supernatural certainty for a certain situation.” I know that I need to be more receptive to that gift and that kind of faith, so if you want to give it to me, please help me.

*                      *                      *

I’m aware that though faith is something you deliver, I’m responsible to give you an apt runway upon which to land it… Help me, I’m too weak to build that runway myself!

In these years of fighting a fearsome disease my thinking about faith has been shifting. I’ve mused a lot about the way that God likes to be trusted. Since this is a memoir and not a treatise on faith, I’ll synopsize and refer you to the paper I mentioned before: “Avoiding The Mediocre Middle.

Sometimes God has his reasons for miraculously making us well and at other times he gives us the strength to suffer well. The same God who said to Moses, “I am the Lord who heals you,” also said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (to endure your “thorn in the flesh”). Both options require faith, a kind of faith that I consider a mature faith.

I currently believe that if I aim my faith primarily at the character of God I’ll get what I need in order to get well or to be able to suffer well. When I’m not sure if I should be contending for a healing miracle or pleading for grace to endure my malady, it helps me when I focus my attention on how good God is, how wise are his judgments, and how reliable is his track record. That way my faith is in him instead of in a certain outcome. I trust in him rather than in a formula  in order to get what I want from him.

[Next: a contrast of super faith versus simple faith…]

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6 thoughts on “What About Faith? (Part 1)

  1. Terri J

    People keep saying put it in Gods hands. Before my daughter at age 32 was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma I always put things in Gods hands. Now I say Look what happened when I put it in his hands. Just even thinking this makes me feel bad. I don’t want to have lost my trust in him. I am fighting very hard to keep my faith. I need a miracle of my daughters healing. Is this a test? What will I do if she still suffers?

    Reply
    1. musingthemysteries Post author

      I ache inside for you and your daughter. It’s one thing for me (almost 60) to have this disease, but another for a young person, to say nothing of how much it must hurt for a mother. I have two children about your daughter’s age, and I can only imagine how I’d feel if either one of them had cancer. There’s no way I can fix anything for you or for her, but I hope I can encourage you in some small way.

      First, there’s plenty of precedence for crying out, “Where are you God? How long will this last? Why don’t you do something?” Psalms, the book of Job, Habakkuk, and other books of the Bible are full of such agonizing cries. In other words, it’s OK to feel the way you do. God loves you whether you’re angry with him or not.

      What I’m attempting to say in this short blog on faith (Parts 1 & 2) from my memoir is that faith is not so much where we tell God what to do, but where we just we trust him whatever he does or doesn’t do because of his character. I know there are many “promises” in the Bible that seem to indicate that he is at our beck and call, but I don’t think that’s the right way to view him. He loves us and wants the best for us. Some of that best will come in time here and the rest of it will come in the better place when we see him face to face. Sometimes he heals us here and sometimes the healing comes later.

      It’s possible that some of my other essays on this blog would be of some help to you. Under the category of Suffering. I’ve placed a number of pieces that have come out of my own season of difficulty with divorce, surgery, and my fight with myeloma, which included a bone marrow transplant. In the meantime I’ll pray for you and your daughter to not lose hope in the God of all hope.

      https://musingthemysteries.wordpress.com/category/my-musing/on-suffering/

      Reply
  2. Cyndi Heath

    This is the age old question, because we have (enough) faith, God heals completely. That’s not true; it may be for a small minority but the large majority of believers are not completely healed except for spiritual healing in accepting Christ’s atoning sacrifice of His blood. Complete spiritual healing comes by faith.

    I wasn’t healed when the Church prayed for me in my send off to Salt Lake City for treatment; I had to endure 9 months of aggressive chemotherapy and stem cell transplant followed by a deep depression and PTSD. I knew Christ could completely heal me, I knew Christ could completely take away my depression – I KNEW CHRIST WAS ENOUGH and so in my post treatment days I was ashamed and felt guilty that I didn’t trust Him enough? Have enough faith? How many believers go through what I did? Knowing Christ CAN heal and yet they suffer and “suffer well”.

    I believe I suffered – and, oh how I suffered – in order to be a door for other Christians who are experiencing this same shame and guilt of knowing Christ is ENOUGH but failing miserably at reflecting that truth.

    Christ is ENOUGH whether we have enough faith or not. I don’t know this, but are there more scriptures regarding complete physical and mental healing or are there more scriptures on “suffering well”?

    Complete spiritual healing comes by faith and this faith comes by hearing the Word (and reading the word). That is what we need and only that! That is our redeeming truth! We are not promised that once we become Christians we live miraculously whole lives. No! Some of us remain broken and continue suffering and our only hope is to trust fully in Christ and believe through faith that my brokenness and suffering is for His purpose in advancing His kingdom!

    P.S. I can’t stand “positive confession” and if I speak of negative things then I am speaking “curses” on that situation or person. Ridiculous . . . Christ omnipotence and omniscience overrules my “curses”.

    Reply
  3. Florentine Pfluger

    When I read your musings, it makes me think of purified silver and gold. It calls beautiful, finely cut gems into my mind. I see a crown. I am happy for all the people your suffering has enabled to see the love of God. Your pain is not in vain. Your words tenderize me. Thank you for all you do to reach out and share your life with others
    Florentine (Jeanice) Pfluger

    Reply

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