Thursday, July 16, 2009

Faith: A Precious Commodity (part 3 in a series on faith)

(Not so much a series of teachings as much as a series of personal reflections on Bible passages that God has used to stir my heart regarding this important matter of faith amidst the challenges He has led me through. See part 2. Go to part 4.)

Faith in God is something precious for those who have it. The apostle Peter called it "more precious than gold" as he wrote to Christians who were facing persecution that was testing their faith (1 Peter 1:7). But I sometimes feel like it takes only a minor test of my faith to feel in short supply of it. A little thing goes wrong and I can end up struggling to believe God will help me.

But faith is way too valuable to lose it so easily! It's clear from how Matthew describes Jesus' ministry in Matthew 9, that faith was an essential factor in the miracles Jesus did for people. After the woman with the hemorrhage touched Jesus' cloak, Jesus said to her that "your faith has made you well" (Matthew 9:22). Six verses later, Jesus asks two blind men who had come to Him if they believed He could help them: "'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord'" (Matthew 9:28). So Jesus healed them and said, "It shall be done to you according to your faith" (Matthew 9:29). That makes faith pretty important!

For someone like me who feels as though my faith has been weakened by personal disappointments, it's encouraging to see how the above stories are sandwiched between two references to the certainty of Jesus' love for sinful and distressed people. In Matthew 9:10-13, Jesus was accused of eating with "tax collectors and sinners" (9:11), and His response was to say that He desires to show mercy to those who are sinners (9:13). Then in Matthew 9:35-38, as Jesus was traveling through all the cities and villages, it says, "When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (9:36).

So if the Gospel stories of healing in Matthew 9 cause me to become worriedly introspective, wondering if I have enough faith for my prayers to be answered, I don't have to look far to find stories of Jesus' mercy and compassion that should get my eyes off of myself and onto Jesus where they should've been all along! After all, that's who the
woman with the hemorrhage and the two blind men were focused on! If I feel in short supply of faith, Jesus is the source of it and He's the One I should be seeking in order to strengthen it. And as I spend quality time with a merciful and compassionate God, He will give me the faith I need to keep praying in faith for the challenges I face.

© 2009 by Ken Peters

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