This past Sunday our pastor preached a sermon entitled “Step of Faith.” He used a story from John 4 where a royal official came to Jesus and begged him to heal his dying son. The man was determined to bring Jesus to his home to perform a miracle. Instead of going with the man, Jesus told him to go and his son would be healed. The official did not hesitate. He followed Jesus’s command to leave. Upon his return home, the official learned that his son had been healed at the exact moment that Jesus said he would. This story is all about faith. The man had faith that Jesus could perform a miracle, and he had faith that Jesus’s word was truth. The man’s faith brought healing. His pleas were answered. It is about faith in the unseen and faith in the unknown. We should all have that kind of faith…the kind of faith that knows no end. What happens when our faith doesn’t lead us down the path we wanted, though? What if it doesn’t make sense? The man could have had faith that Jesus would heal his son, but Jesus could have said no. It happens all the time. Sometimes our prayers feel unanswered or aren’t answered in the way we wanted. Sometimes, God doesn’t perform the miracle we asked for. How do you continue to have faith then? One of the points that the pastor made was that faith is trusting that God is God and God is good even when we can’t reconcile it. It is having faith even when things don’t work out. While I know this is the truth, it is easy to let disappointment cause you to lose faith sometimes. When asking God for something and there is not a visible answer to your prayer, we often become discouraged, disappointed, and even angry. I cannot count the number of times that I have prayed about something or asked God for something, and it felt like he wasn’t listening. I have asked God to open doors and none were opened. I’ve asked for healing and none came. Sometimes there is only silence, and I don’t understand why. Those are the times when I can start to lose faith, but in reality, those are the times when I should rely on my faith the most. Those are the times when faith is most important because God is in control even when we don’t know how or why. He is listening, and he knows best. He has a plan and his plan sometimes doesn’t line up with mine. That is hard to accept, but I have to remind myself that he knows things that I don’t know. He may not give me the answer I want, or he may lead me down a path I don’t want to be on or even knew existed. Sometimes, he may push me in a direction that is hard. I may even be forced to weather a storm. Instead of fighting against it, I have to have faith that he is in control and knows what he is doing. It has to be his will and not mine.
This was a lesson that I needed to be reminded of. I have been discouraged recently about some “unanswered prayers,” and I needed the reminder that I have to have faith in the bigger picture. While I may not get the answers I want right now, I know that my prayers are not really going unanswered. I have faith that God is answering them in his own way and in his own time, and his timing is perfect. It may not be the answers that I am looking for, but an answer will come. He will lead me where I am meant to go. I also have to be open to the answer even if I don’t like it or is hard. I have to look for doors that are opening and be willing to walk through them. I don’t want to miss the door. It is really more than just having faith. It is also about walking in faith. That means that I am still moving forward even when I don’t get the answer I want. It also means that I keep trying and don’t give up when I get knocked down. I get back up and keep pushing through. Jesus stands just outside of our comfort zone. We have to be willing to step outside with him. We have to have faith.
It reminds me of a story I once heard. A man’s house was beginning to flood. A car came by and offered him an escape. The man said, “No, thank you. God will take care of me.” As the water continued to rise, he moved to the roof of his house. Someone on a jet ski came by and offered him an escape. Again, the man said, “No, thank you. God will provide for me.” The water rose to the man’s waist. A third person came by in a boat and offered him an escape. The same answer was given. “No, thank you. God will help me.” Sadly, the man drowned. When he entered the gates of heaven, the man asked God why he let him die and did not provide for him. God answered, “I sent you a car, a boat, and a jet ski!”
The man had incredible faith that God would provide for him, but God did not provide the answer he was looking for. The man thought God would stop the water from rising and was not open to the alternatives. He thought that God didn’t answer his prayers, but that was not true. He just answered it in a different way. The man had faith, but he wasn’t walking in faith. He didn’t get in the car, the jet ski, or the boat. God does answer our prayers. We have to not only have faith in whatever those answers are, but we also must keep walking in that faith even when we don’t like it, or it wasn’t what we expected. We have to get in the boat!