Believing at the Point of Despair

In the crowd was a woman who had been suffering from chronic bleeding for twelve years. Although she had been under the care of many doctors and had spent all her money, she had not been helped at all. Actually, she had become worse. Mark 5:25-26 GWT

This topic plagued my heart for the last few days. How can you expect someone to believe in God when everything they have believed Him for has failed to manifest? How can you expect someone to believe in your testimony when nothing they have prayed for seems to happen, and everything they have prayed against has come to pass? How can you convince them when instead of things getting better, it has gotten worse? It would be pointless to say to them, ‘just have faith’ or ‘God’s going to work it out.’ I know, because I have both been that person that those words were said to and I have been the person to say it. It would even be worse to say that, maybe you are outside of God’s will for your life to this person, who is already on the brink of or in a state of depression.

The message I heard that mentioned this scenario referenced Elisha’s encounter with the widow whose sons were about to be sold into slavery to pay the debt left behind by her husband, one of the men in Elisha’s company. Think about it: your husband/wife dies, leaves behind considerable debt, enough that the creditors want to sell your children into slavery to pay it back. You just lost your spouse, and now they want to take everything from you. How do you tell someone like that to believe that God will provide?

The scriptures above are about the woman with the issue of blood; she had done everything she could to be healed. She spent all her money and no one could help her. Then to add misery to her strife, her condition had grown worse. How do you tell her…to believe????

This was very difficult for me to conceptualize, and at the end, I realized in my own situation and in that of a little sister of mine, I had to relinquish her and my own problems to God. I realized that in my situation and in the situation of the woman with the issue of blood, we both kept taking the problem back away from God, trying to fix it in our own power. Whereas, unlike us, the widow went straight to God’s representative (since in that time the priests and prophets were God’s representatives and intermediaries on Earth). You have to turn it and them over to God.

You cannot think that your unguided intervention will prompt a doubt-filled person to believe and have faith to reach the point of things changing in their favor. Honestly speaking, you would have to be delusional to think that your actions alone are sufficient enough; without God’s hand on the situation, you will simply fall into the same cycle, and digging yourself or pushing them deeper into depression. You see, we are not as in control as we would like to think. In those times of despair, complete surrender is the only thing that will work.

It hurt me to have to tell my little sister that she was selfish and that sometimes life was difficult enough to push us into disbelief, but that in those times, we could have the greatest growth if we simply trusted in God–and that as long as she continued to doubt and say things contrary to what I believed, I could not entertain her. It broke my heart because I love her as if she was my natural-born sister. But, I realized I was doing that thing I do, trying to rescue people again–my motto should be ‘No Souls Left Behind, lol.’ I had to realize that it was God’s job to intervene and I could no longer try to take His place in her life or force her to believe Him for that matter. I especially could no longer hear the complaints that cast down her faith when I know personally what God has done in my own life.

When I got to this point in my walk that I was so unsure of what would happen that it seemed easy to ‘curse God and die’–like Job’s wife told him to do–I could only muster the strength to cry out louder to God. I realized that life was pointless to live without faith and I could not ignore God’s past works in my life. The beauty of this is that in both scriptural references–the woman with the issue of blood and the widow–at their points of absolute despair they turned to God. And it was God–not man–that changed their situations and ushered them into their breakthrough.

So basically there is not a solution out that eludes that total surrender on either party’s part. If you are a Miss-Fix-It like I used to be, you have to surrender those people to God, and believe and pray on their behalf, even if they say they will not. If you are in a place where it seems as if God is not there, I think you know now that it is time to reach for the hem of His garment like the woman with the issue of blood, and allow God to pour out His continually flowing oil like with the widow to anoint you and your situation. Trust God and realize there is no other way to move to the other side of ‘through.’

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:27-34 NIV

For His Glory

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”  John 11:4-5 NIV

 


CLEAR!

I’m sure you all have seen a medical dramatic TV show (I loved watching Trauma on TLC or Discovery Health and ER) in which one or more persons have had to be revived. I have a personal testimony to that, sorta. My baby brother was born with a hole in his heart and a blockage over his pulmonary vein…I remember, I was 6 years old. Upon finding out that my little brother had to be revived several times and just knowing now what that process entails, I thank God for His hand on my brother and saving his life as an infant. Even though he gets on my nerves, I cannot imagine him not being in my life and would be hurt without his presence in it.

Countless times we hear this story of Lazarus being resurrected from the dead. We even see and hear modern-day movies allude to it, i.e. I don’t know if you all remember Casper the friendly ghost, but Casper was about Casper’s quest to being alive again. The machine that his dad had built was called the ‘Lazarus.’ Today as I was catching up on some devotionals, I realized a key in one of them: ‘dead’ situations, seasons, and relationships are that way for a reason. Sometimes it’s because they are supposed to be forgotten, but other times, yes, other times they are that way because God is delaying putting His healing hand, touch, or word to them…so that the fullness of His glory can be revealed. In the scripture above, Jesus said that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death. Yet as we all know, Lazarus died.

Died. Dead. Deceased. Passed away. Gone on to glory. Whatever phrase you choose here, they all mean the same. I learned from the devotion that God delays what we seek sometimes so that the fullness of His glory can be revealed. It dawned on me finally that He has answered my prayers all along. Look at my kidney situation for example. I could have been diagnosed in 2000 and my kidney issues been maintained or reversed had I gone to a better doctor (or one that actually did her job!); they were missed when I was 14. Thank God it was found when I was a junior in college! But still, even with the medicines (although I am sure that some did more damage than they did help), my kidneys still failed. I prayed and prayed and prayed for my healing to come, for my health to be restored and for me to be delivered from medications. And because I trusted in God’s word and His promises, I knew that He would, that He had to. But I too, like Martha and Mary, began to doubt after there was an absence of my manifestation, a delay in my healing. You see, Martha and Mary had to begin to lose hope once Lazarus’ health took a turn for the worse. I am sure they stopped believing when Lazarus died. I stopped believing because I kept going to the doctor to only hear that no change had occurred or that my kidney function was declining; in fact, there were more medicines to take and more shots to get just to keep me above water. To me, the inevitability of the fact of my having a transplant became real, no matter how much I dreaded it. I allowed other people’s words to me to affect my faith and to impact my ability to believe in God.

So 2 days pass by with no word from Jesus. At the point that Jesus finally arrives, Lazarus has died. At the point when it was time for me to have my transplant, I finally acquiesced that God had chosen to heal me in that place. I did not understand it, but it was a combination of things: my level of faith before–to believe that God undoubtedly would heal me, His plan, and that He would get all the glory. So as Jesus calls forth a 4-day body that had already begun to smell, He called back life, He called back health, He called back everything that death had stolen from Lazarus to glorify the Father in a hopeless situation. As I read this again, I realized that only God can get the glory in Lazarus’ public resurrection–why? Because only God could give Jesus the power to ‘call what was not as though it were (Romans 4:17)’ so that those who saw it and believed would be blessed. How? Only God could give Jesus the authority to use words to change a situation in the physical/natural realm. And then I realized and applied this to my own life, only God could take the ‘death’ of my kidneys and call forth my health from a gift…only God could save our lives with His gift…wow. Only God caused my brother’s kidney to filter immediately once inside my body. Only God can assure that I have had NO COMPLICATIONS or side effects of it. Only God can have dosages of medicines dropped and only God will deliver me from total use of medications. Who gets the glory in that? Not the doctors, though I thank them for being God’s vessels. Not my brother, although what he did for me is insurmountable and I thank Him for allowing God to show His love to me. But God alone! Because of these things and other situations since then, I do not doubt the awesomeness of God and I labor to trust and be obedient, having faith in Him and His words to me, through me and for me. He can do anything if you trust and believe. For those situations that you don’t understand, you must have faith that He makes those things work out for your good, even the bad (Gen 50:20, Romans 8:28).

Everything that God does for us is for His glory. If we believe, He will do even greater than this!

‘Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”’ John 11:40-44 NIV