And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” ~ John 9:23
There is rain in the forecast. This in itself is nothing short of a small miracle in Oklahoma City. Rain has been very infrequent here lately. However, today I did not want rain. All week while Ethan played by himself or watched TV while I worked on the house and packed, I talked to him about going to the zoo on Friday. Our last guaranteed time.
We decided to risk it, even though rain seemed eminent. On the way, I began to pray for God to hold off the rain, even just over the zoo since we really need rain badly. Then I looked around me and thought, “There is no good reason for it not to rain. The clouds look like it. It’s in the forecast. It’s going to rain.”
Then another thought struck me, “Don’t have faith in the event, have faith in God.” It seemed a small shift in object, but it made a big difference. In the past when I’ve prayed, I’ve had so much faith that X would happen. Then when it didn’t happen, I wondered why God held back.
Today as I continued my drive to the zoo, I focused on having faith that God could prevent rain. Not that it wouldn’t rain, but that God was capable of stopping it from raining.
What if I applied this idea to things of larger significance? Supposed I had faith not that we would own a house again one day and be settled, but that God is capable of making that happen. However, if it doesn’t, I also have to have faith that God knows what is best for me and for advancing his kingdom–maybe my physical stability here on earth isn’t part of that larger plan.
I know, that thought isn’t comfortable, is it? Here’s one to make you even more uncomfortable, some times God even lets hard things come to grow his children and advance the kingdom*.
Take the story of Lazarus. Twice Jesus explains his delay in these terms. He says,
This illness will not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him. (John 11:4, 14)
What?!? God allowed some of his closest friends to walk through pain to glorify Jesus and grow the belief of his disciples. Quite honestly that thought makes me down right angry. I’ve gone through some hard stuff and have seem friends walk though unimaginable pain. To even dare think God would allow those circumstances in our lives to grow his children and further his kingdom is hard to swallow.
This is where faith comes back into play. Do we have faith in the event we’re praying for, or is our faith in the God who can act? Who can heal the sick, who can calm that storm, but who can also calm his child and promises to walk the path with us. Where is our faith?
So did it rain today? I’m thrilled to say it didn’t. Ethan had a great time at the zoo and even saw the elusive lions who are never out in their exhibit. For Ethan’s sake, I’m glad today God chose to act, but even if He hadn’t, today wouldn’t have been wasted. Today He taught this daughter a little more about faith.
*This thought taken from a talk by Andy Stanley