I have heard it said that no one ever reads the same book twice. Even if you read a book for a second or a third time, where you are in life or your current life experiences enable you to see aspects of the book which you did not see before. I do believe this is true. The Bible is not any different. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) says, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
For example, when I read through the Bible many moons ago when I taught a Biblically based weight loss class, I highlighted verses such as Psalms 81:10 (ESV) which says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” When I was in the throes of raising children, I highlighted verses such as Proverbs 13:24 (ESV) which says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
So, it is not surprising that this year, while reading my chronological Bible, that I have been hit more scripturally with things which are going on in my immediate family life. As many of you know, my cousin, Ben, was in a serious car crash which has left him fighting to regain his strength back in his mind and in his body.
During the days of intercessory prayer for Ben, I found myself reading story after story in my chronological Bible of Jesus healing the sick. The benefit of reading the Bible in chronological order is sometimes, with the gospels, you get to read the same story four times in a row. The phrase which struck me more than any other were the words of Jesus who said over and over again, “Your faith has made you well.”
It struck me hard this time. Jesus could have said (and does a few times), “Glorify God for what He has done,” or He could have even said, “Glorify Me for what I have done.” However, time after time after time, he singles out the person’s faith as the reason for their healing.
To the centurion who asked to have his servant healed, Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” Matthew 8:13, ESV
To the woman who had a flow of blood for 12 years, Jesus said, “…Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Matthew 9:22, ESV
To the two blind men who He restored their sight, he said, “According to your faith be it done to you.” Matthew 9:29, ESV
To the father who asks Jesus if he can help his son who was possessed by a demon, Jesus said, “’If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 8:23, ESV
To the blind man, Bartimaeus, he said, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Mark 10:52, ESV
My head was reeling, and I have to say still is. I don’t really know how to explain the level of my new understanding. I read it in a different way than I ever have before due to the current life experience going on in my family. I guess I always believed that God would only heal if it was His will, and I still believe that to be true. However, the implication according to scripture is that the level of their faith of what Jesus could do was the determining factor of whether or not they received the healing.
Please hear me when I say that Jesus still did the healing. John 15:5 (ESV) says, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” God created the world and all of its fullness and didn’t need any help from me! Even still, I feel he revealed a richness to my understanding of my faith and the part it plays in prayer.
I liken it to Peter (who is my favorite disciple) walking on the water. Jesus was walking on the water. Peter asked to be able to walk on the water too. Peter got out of the boat and began to walk to his Lord on the water, but he became afraid and began to sink. Jesus said in Matthew 14:31, (ESV), “…O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus allowed Peter to participate in a great miracle and would have continued to perform the miracle, but only if Peter’s faith had not wavered.
I began to wonder how many opportunities or experiences or miracles had I potentially missed out on that God wanted to perform in my life, because I did not have enough faith to cause it to happen. Wow! I can’t even really wrap my brain around the concept.
In the meantime, I am going to pray with faith in the mighty power of my Lord Jesus Christ to heal my cousin, Ben. I will continue to pray without doubting as in James 1:6-8 (below). I desire to be like the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 who goes before an unrighteous judge who did not love God or man. He doesn’t want to do what she asks, but eventually gives her what she wants due to the fact she would not leave him alone. Luke 18:1 (ESV) says, “And he (Jesus) told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Also, like the parable of the neighbor who comes and asks his friend for bread in the middle of the night, because he has unexpected company in Luke 11. The friend first refused to get up in the middle of the night, but eventually does because the neighbor is persistent.
Persistence, faith, and prayer sound like a good plan to me. I would love for all of you to pray for Ben as well as for the immediate family and friends who are most closely involved in this situation. Pray for restoration for his brain, healing from surgeries, strength in his left side, and good rest for his body at night. Pray for rest, strength, and peace for the family. I don’t understand it all, but I am going to be bugging God a lot about this one. I would love it if you join me in praying too. I thank you in advance for your prayers.
“Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8, ESV