Are there times in your life when it is harder to trust God?
Are there times in your life when it is harder to trust God? When you’re running empty and you don’t know what to run your faith on?
A lot of us hang our faith on a recent break through, recent new friendship or an answer to our prayer. Some things in our life happen on which we hang our faith on, we go from event to event taking our faith forward. For a lot of us, when that doesn’t happen, we question ourselves of as to how should we go on? We feel guilty that we’re not trusting God enough because we haven’t seen something happen or show up, no open doors or break through recently.
Let me tell you why that’s a struggle, It’s because you don’t see things happening around you in response to your prayers and your needs. And we need to see things happen around us. Why is that important? Because when something around us happens, we get a sense of God’s presence, his closeness and proximity to us and believe that our prayers are getting answered. But when that doesn’t happen, all we have to do is trust on God’s word which God has promised. These are tough times, places and long roads to be on. Christ Jesus tells us what to do when all you have is, God’s word to live on when there’s not a lot of evidence around you. There are two basic things that you can do.
Firstly, Trust God when He gives you a clear word. When John the Baptist was with his disciples and they were grumbling with him about Jesus taking away all his disciples in Judea because of the calamity there, Jesus moves away. He gets on the road with his disciples and goes to a town called Silchar. Jesus meets a Samaritan woman there besides the well. (Where we unfolded the first part of John chapter 4) and Jesus interacted with this women and turned her pain into passion. But now they’ve moved back and now they’re in Galilee. (John Ch 2: Where Jesus turned Water into Wine) and he said, this was the first signs and he says again that this would be the second of the signs. Which mean that there are miracles where God does beautiful, compassionate, loving things for his people just because He is the Father and he answers prayers and we are his children. So when Jesus says there’s a sign, you don’t want to miss that.
So we go back to Galillee and Jesus does another sign over there, where an official, we’re unaware of the fact that he’s Jewish or Gentile comes to Jesus and tells him that his son is sick and is on the verge of dying. So he asks Jesus desperately to come and heal his son. Being an official, he’s probably tried every person and place to try and save his son and his last resort is Jesus. But when he comes to Jesus, his response is kind of inappropriate (from our perspective) but for the people present there, this was a lesson and a sign to them. Jesus says, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
He turns to the man and says go. Your son will live. So the man turns around and heads home. He meets his servant on the way, who informs him that his son is healing. He inquires of when the incident takes place and the servant tells him it was at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The official tells him that’s exactly when Jesus commanded him to go and assured him that his son shall live which was on the 7th hour. Thereafter he and his household put their faith in Jesus.
The Lord allows pain and suffering in order that we might be saved and have a deeper walk with him and understand his purposes in our life. Jesus is always concerned about how to take our faith to the next level. Faith that is built on the spoken and fulfilled word of God is far more powerful and complete that the faith that is build on signs and wonders. Reasons for this is because Jesus said so and so if your faith is to consistently grow, God’s not always going to work with signs and wonders. Jesus went to a few places and said that because of their unbelievingness, there will be no signs and wonders and no miracles.
So what do you do when there are no signs and miracles and all you have to do is, live on God’s word? We like to see things happen in order to believe because, (1) we feel cared for. When you see someone doing something for you, you believe the word that they spoke; (2) we feel assurance that God is with us. When you feel his presence and proximity around us, we feel assured that our prayers have been answered. And when we keep praying and our prayers are not answered, we feel that God’s not around. That’s the problem with distance. With distance comes distrust. Even in relationships, the moment there is communicative, relational, geographical distance there is distrust. And this happens more with God where he is at the receiving end.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see things happen around you and to see God do miraculous things for you, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. But when this becomes the basis of how we’re building our faith, where our faith is only going to grow on the basis of everything that God does in your life, it’s not going to happen. The Son of God is frustrated and Jesus says, “Unless you see signs & wonders or I prove it to you, you won’t believe.”
Do you ever get tired of proving your point or your word to be true? To your spouse, your family members, your workmates. It gets annoying when they don’t take your word for it. The same way God doesn’t like it either.
The Answer is that,
“Faith comes from hearing, hearing the word of God.” Romans 10:17
Faith doesn’t develop from seeing God work but develops from hearing God’s word. Faith is built from hearing not from seeing because when you see something happen, your faith stagnates there, until you see something new happen again. That is not consistent because you wait for the next big thing to happen in your life or God to do something miraculous around you.
What is it about hearing that is so amazing? What is the significance behind hearing? Let me tell you the difference between hearing and seeing.
Philosophically, I was reading a book many years ago during my Masters. It said that, seeing puts you at the centre of your worldview, your perception, your experience because you are looking. Therefore, I become the centre of everything I see. But if I close my eyes and Jonathan begins to speak, suddenly he becomes the centre of my worldview. It’s his perception, his wisdom, his words that becomes the centre of my eyes. There’s something about hearing that God has put in place, that we have to understand why it is so important. Hearing sets the hearer’s worldview at the source. He sees, perceives and experiences his reality based on the source. Hearing goes further back than seeing. The baby in the womb already identifies his mother’s voice. He knows her. He already begins to learn the family language while it’s in the mother’s womb. It already begins to develop a sense of being wanted and cared for, and loved and expected. “Expected”, it knows that it’s being expected or not wanted. The baby already has a sense and learns to calm down during the stressful times, when he hears the sound of his parent’s voice.
Between the 5 Senses: Taste, Smell, Sight, Touch, and Hearing. The four only begin when the baby is born. But hearing develops right from the beginning in the womb itself. You start learning, building, and you start becoming who you are, based on who you are being told you are.
Hearing is also a source of encouragement. When we talk about encouragement, it’s always about what you’ve been told and not what you saw. From our earliest years it is the words of our parents and teachers, that has build us up or destroyed us. It is the repeated “I Love You” even though every time it means the same thing, the repeated words that builds my sense of security and completeness. Hearing builds Faith. There is something innate about hearing that builds Faith that you need to understand. Even when people came to the Temple/ Synagogue, no one could read. But even for those who could not read or were illiterate, from children in the womb to uneducated people, he gave each one the ability to grow equally in the Faith because Faith comes from hearing. So the word of God was read out, from scrolls and thousands of people would come to hear and there was repentance and there was revival in the nation of Israel, revival in the lands just from the reading of scriptures. This was the Second of God’s sign and he spoke through his Miracle.
God wants you to trust and act on his Word, before he acts on yours. Our Faith is built when we listen to God’s voice repeatedly and responsibly. Once upon a time, a man came to Jesus, desperately for Jesus to do something. Jesus says, “Go! Your son will live.” That’s assurance. I will go.
What are you desperate for God to do in your life? What are you struggling with that you need a clear word from God? What do you want Jesus to come for and tell him that this relationship is dying in my life, this priority is dying in my life, this vision, dream is dying in my life. I need you to come and take over.
There’s a second thing that God does for us, Trust God to give us a fresh word.
So Jesus goes to a pool called Bethesda, which is located near the Sheep Gate around the city of Jerusalem. It had colonies and they had a roof and under the roof, there were many paralytics and sick people and invalids. The pool was is the house of God, and wherever there is a house of God, there is healing. So the pool was stirred by an angel, and the first person who jumped in that pool, was healed. But this poor man was unable to make it to the pool for 38 years because of his paralysis. That day Jesus healed only one person, hence it was a sign. So Jesus came there and he already knew the man had been there for a long time, for 38 years he lay there sick and invalid. He became familiar to the edge of the pool. Struggling for so many years meant the he must have had some psychological affects too which defined him as a paralytic and an invalid. So Jesus walks up to him and asks him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The man must have been broken and hopeless as he lay there for 38 years. And of course he may have wanted to be healed.
Who wouldn’t want to be healed? Think about it, do you want to do what you’ve never done before? Because in those 38 years, there’s a sense of giving up, that I’ve tried everything. Nothing is going to work. I’ve been in this situation and brokenness for so long. I don’t see anything changing or moving. Everyone else is faster. I’ve never been good at this. Have you ever said that to yourself? Have you ever been familiar with the edge of the pool?
You tell yourself that you’ve tried a lot and you’ve been on the edge a lot. That people have beaten you and you’ve lost your fight. You tell yourself that you have no one. It’s always someone else’s fault. So when Jesus asks the man if he wanted to be healed. He tells him that he has no one to put him into the pool. Jesus tells him to, “Get up and take up his bed and walk”. Jesus meant I am here. You don’t need anything anymore to heal you. Sometimes all we need is a fresh word when we feel we have been defeated. So the man did as Jesus had told him to do. And what had carried him for 38 years, he now carried and walked. When Jesus gives you a fresh word, he expects you to act on it.
Let me pose a question to you, what have you given up on? What are of your life or what part of you has been at the edge a lot. And you’ve decided that you’ve been defeated a several times and it won’t work and that you need a fresh word from God.