Is there a situation in your life that is so challenging or heartbreaking that you are tempted to doubt God and His ability to work out a plan for your good?
If so, please raise your hand.
My hands are up and waving in the air.
This past year I faced my biggest giant of all – the demise of my marriage. I did not think divorce would ever happen to me. I got the wind knocked out of me when I realized that Kevin, Lian and I are no longer a family. If I were a boxer – then it is me down on the ground on the last count and fumbling to my feet and wobbling towards the ropes to get my footing again.
But I refuse to waver in my faith, so the best way to get that fighting spirit back is to pick up the Bible and read about the people whose faith in Jesus gave them the strength and courage to face their giants and in the end be named the victor.
The bleeding woman and the lame man, who are mentioned in the gospels, come to my mind of people with great faith. They both had to face a similar giant: an incurable physical illness. One was in a desperate search for Jesus and the other didn’t know to look for him, but both had an encounter with Jesus that resulted in them rising to the occasion to slay their Goliath.
Let’s start with the bleeding woman.
She had a physical aliment that was embarrassing and kept her from living a normal life. She was subject to bleeding for twelve years and no one could heal her. Let’s pause and read about her faith.
This woman had spent all that she had on an extremely bad health care system that provided no answers, no resolution and no healing. But when she heard that Jesus was different from all the doctors who had treated her, she chose to believe that all she had to do was touch his cloak and she would be healed.
Jesus felt her touch above all the other hands and elbows that were pressing against him. Why? Because her touch radiated so much faith that he felt the power go out from him. Jesus called her “daughter” and applauded her for her faith. He gave her a command, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
So this is how I draw inspiration from this woman. She believed. With all the disappointment she had experienced over a long period of time, she still had a childlike heart. When she was down for the count and it looked like there was no hope for her to win the battle over her disease, she mustered the faith to get up and make her way through that crowd to be healed by Jesus.
When life punches you in the gut and the face, do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is the one above all others who will help you? Are you coming to Jesus with the kind of faith the bleeding woman demonstrated?
Urgent, unwavering, childlike and determined.
These are the questions I ask myself when I read about her encounter with Jesus. She inspires me to keep my heart open and soft towards Jesus’s words when I read the Bible in my quiet times every morning.
This woman inspires me to believe with a childlike heart.
Now let’s turn our attention to the lame man.
He was an invalid for 38 years, lying at the edge of a pool and unable to get himself into the soothing, healing waters.
After reading about the lame man you may be wondering how he displayed any faith because he was simply lying at the edge of pool when Jesus noticed him. When Jesus learned how long he had been in this condition, he asked him directly, “Do you want to get well?” Why bother to ask? Isn’t it obvious that a lame man would want to get well? Not necessarily.
Sometimes we simply don’t have the faith or desire to get out of our sinful or difficult situations. We are like the lame man who makes excuses as to why we can’t get into the pool that will help our condition. We aren’t willing to take the risks to step out in faith and make the changes that Jesus says we should do for our own good and our salvation. Sometimes we need people who will look us in the eyes and ask us directly, “Do you want to get well?” And then we need to answer them with no excuses.
So here is where I draw inspiration from this man. He was bold. After he was healed, the religious leaders confronted him with a critical spirit and told him he wasn’t supposed to carry his mat on the sabbath. Imagine that!! They tried to make him feel guilty for no longer being lame. I think it took a bold faith for this man to go back to the leaders and dare to inform them that Jesus was the one who healed him. This man was willing to be associated with a persecuted Jesus and in doing so he was persecuted as well.
Am I willing to give Jesus the credit for the changes in my life even if people who I’m telling don’t believe or respect Jesus? Am I will to share my faith with anyone and everyone, regardless of how I think they will respond to me? Who knows, maybe they will be open to what I have to say?
What is interesting to me is that the command Jesus gave this man was different from the command he gave to the woman. He said, “See you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse will happen to you.” Why didn’t he call him “son” and tell him to go in peace and be freed from his suffering. Was the woman not a sinner? Why didn’t he also tell the man that his faith healed him?
The fact that Jesus had to specifically point out to him that he was well again, tells me that Jesus knew this man had the tendency to easily forget what God had done for him. How many of us have said the prayer, “Oh, God. If you get me out of this situation I will serve you for the rest of my days.” Then when our life gets better again, we forget about Jesus, and we don’t give him our whole life like we said we would. We even start to think it was our fantastic selves that got us out of the situation. I believe that Jesus sees this type of heart as sinful. When we don’t give God the credit, then we have the sin of ungratefulness and pride in our hearts.
This man inspires me to give God the credit for all the victories in my life.
This passage in John 5 teaches me that a weak, excuse-making man can turn into a bold warrior for Christ. Do not underestimate the power of an encounter with Jesus. We may not have a face to face encounter with Jesus today, but if we allow the Bible to convict our hearts and to see who Jesus really is, we can change just like this man did.
So now let’s turn our thoughts back to the giants we are facing in our lives. What are you going to do about them? How about we take them down with urgent, unwavering, childlike and determined faith.
I dare myself to do this, and I dare you too.