Someone once said that “A realist is an idealist who has gone through the fire and been purified. A skeptic is an idealist who has gone through the fire and been burned.”
So often we pray trying to get God to change our circumstances – but what if God is using our circumstances to change us?
Years ago– I had a men’s bible study every Sunday at 6 AM we would meet, have breakfast and the guys would go home and get their families and bring them back for Sunday school and worship. -
One Sunday morning I had a terrible pain in my abdomen – I had the men pray – I was confident God could heal a stomach ache – but it was hurting – one of the guys suggested that I go see the doctor before worship – I went – the doctor said this is either appendicitis or and infection that looks like appendicitis – I can take a blood test and find out – but we should get you ready for surgery just in case.
I said – well – we prayed - I’m pretty sure I don’t have appendicitis – I’m going to go back to church and preach and serve communion and I’ll call you and you can let me know that I’m fine –
The doctor told me I was being foolish and I should NOT leave the hospital –
He was right
I went back to church and preached and was fine until the closing hymn, I almost collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital.
As I was be sedated for the operation – I was praying – “Lord, why? I believed that you could heal me?”
And I sense the Lord say – “I know you believe I can heal you – but do you trust me enough to bring you through this surgery.”
And at that moment I learned something about myself –
I learned that didn’t really trust God to be with me in suffering and when I was afraid….
I trusted God when he changed my circumstances, as I desired – but I wasn’t to good at trusting God when he used my circumstances to change me, as He desired…
It is so easy to believe when we see the miracle –
• The healing happens
• That check comes in at the last minute
• Our children come home safe
• The car just misses the light pole
• We get the job
But do we believe when we see little or nothing?
And the honest response should be: of course not.
Why should I ever believe, if I see little or nothing?
Remember Thomas? Solid, rational, honest Thomas refused to believe “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it”
Be careful what you say!
John 20: 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
That sounds like the same thing the Apostle Peter says in verse 1 Peter 1:8
8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
That sounds nice – but why should we? How can we believe if we haven’t seen like Thomas and Peter?
John says that he wrote his Gospel that we might believe.
The testimony of the word of God is one evidence for Jesus - it is written that we might believe - believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Another witness is the risen Lord Jesus Christ himself – when Peter talks about a “living Hope” and John writes about having LIFE in his name – it is all about the FACT that Jesus is here and now – we don’t hope in a dead teacher – who lived 2000 years ago – we hope in a the Lord Jesus Christ who lived – died and rose for ever on the 3rd day.
I can’t see him – but I can see evidence of his presence.
Just like I can’t see the wind – but I know when it has been blowing.
I can feel it.
I can see the effects of the wind.
And even when it stops blowing – I’m pretty sure it will come back and there will be a breeze again.
How do I know Jesus is alive?
By the changed lives of those who say they’ve meet him.
By the changed world I live in – by all the acts of love and mercy by his followers –
And yes by answered prayers – of course by answered prayers….
But most of all by the testimonies and witness of those who still trust him even when their prayers are not answered the way they desired – they still trust because they know that God is real and that God is good and they have come to know that He always makes good on his word –
Another word for this trust is faith.
And when you have found faith you have found the most precious and dear commodity in the world.
Do you have faith in Jesus?