Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What Kind Of Faith Matters?

I'm going to a funeral tomorrow. My friend Leon was 55. He was diagnosed with cancer last October; less than 10 months ago. He wasn't expected to die this soon. After several months on enferon, he was going to start chemo this week. Leon got sick Wednesday morning and went downhill all day, died that evening. His wife says there are things they didn't clear up or talk about because they were believing God that Leon would be healed. And if you talk about those things, doesn't that mean you are doubting God?

What I have to say about that (now) is that just because YOU have faith that God is going to do something does not mean God is going to do that something. It's a lousy world, a fallen world, and we are not soothsayers or fortune tellers, we do not know what God's will is in any situation, as much as the more hard-line among us think they do. So make those wills, talk about what happens if you die.

We have some well-meaning friends who are just sure if we have enough faith God will heal our every disease and discomfort. Hogwash. We had faith God would heal my wife when her pain started and it went on and on and on. How much faith is required? If you simply believe, isn't that faith? Leon's family is a family of massive faith. He suffered and then he died. That enferon is nasty stuff. My wife was in a much worse place mentally and emotionally when she was trying to drum up enough "faith" to be healed. She was much better after she reread Calm My Anxious Heart: A Women's Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow.

The lie with faith-healing is that it puts the focus back on me. Almost like "If I have enough faith, I can heal myself." "God is powerless unless I do something about it." That kind of mentality.

Paul "left Trophimus sick in Miletus." (2 Timothy 4:20) Does that mean Paul or a companion of Paul did not have enough faith? Timothy had a bad stomach "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." (1 Timothy 5:23) Does that mean Timothy had a lack of faith?

Job was a man of faith and look what happened to him.

I read Job recently. My wife went through some really horrible months of pain that no one could figure out (this started right after Leon found out about his cancer - our families frequently commiserated). Job didn't answer any questions, except that there is no point to suffering; it just happens and we have to deal with it the best we can, holding on to God's goodness. I didn't do so well. Don't give me any nonsense about how Job was given everything back. His children died. Were they raised from the dead? No. Having more children does not make up for losing children.

Ecclesiastes was more comforting, if you can believe that. Ecclesiastes talks about what a meaningless life this is and you should just enjoy the good days when you have them. "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

My faith has been tested by fire, and I'm not sure what it'll look like when I'm done. Perhaps there was more dross than I knew.

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