PART ONE: LEARNING AND RE-LEARNING
Let me tell you a story about a strong and capable, yet ill and health-deprived, woman. Having come from the epitome of rough beginnings, this woman knew what it was to hold her own. She was faithful and faith-filled. She was stubborn and glorious. By her mid-twenties, she began to have significant health problems, one of which was reproductive. After enduring numerous miscarriages, she began to get desperate to get something more out of her ‘safe’ Christianity. Up until this stage, she’d lived a faithful Christian life, but she began a search to know the God of Miracles. She found Him at a ‘miracle meeting’ in the early 80s when she asked for prayer and found herself praying for a miracle. The preacher came up to her and merely expressed that she’d hold her baby girl within 12 months. And she believed him.
Long story short, I was that baby that came 12 months later.
So that was the beginning of a massive faith journey for our whole family. Mum would have said she believed in the impossible and got it, and I was always her little ‘miracle’ baby. I grew up watching videos of people ‘being raised from the dead’, going to crusades where I saw blind people see. We were on the cusp of what most people describe as ‘outlandish Christian behaviour’, right in the thick of the ‘Miracles & Wonders’ movement. But it was wonderful and exciting! To this day, I look back with positive memories of those days, and I’m thankful that’s how I was raised. I believed it so matter-of-factly. When I got teased at school for having warts all over my hands, I went home and said to God, “Take them away!” And He did. That was a miracle, and I wasn’t surprised. I was thankful, sure, but not surprised, because that’s what God does. I knew God could do miracles.
But when I was 20, I sat in bed one night and read a random scripture in Daniel:
Daniel 3:16-18 (VOICE)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to defend our actions in this matter. We are ready for the test. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected.
At that moment (a GOD moment), I realised that faith was more than saying, ‘Nothing is impossible with God’. It’s also having the humility to say ‘But… if not’. Many could consider that position as a ‘lack of faith’ or ‘faithless’. I proceeded to write pages of notes redefining my belief. I went to bed late that night but had such a sense of peace and revelation. It was a powerful encounter with God.
The very next day was a Friday. I was working downtown and needed to rush to the church for a rehearsal. I was leading worship that night. Once home, I sat ever so awkwardly on the couch next to my Mum as she filled me in on her cancer diagnosis. Even in those initial days, when everyone (including myself) was speaking positively, and the phrases were ‘Mum has cancer, but in Jesus name…’, I knew God didn’t reveal all He had to me about FAITH for nothing. I ultimately knew this to be a test of not my faith in a miracle, but my faith in God.
And it has been that way ever since. Every time I want a miracle, a whisper says, “But can you say ‘even if You don’t, I won’t turn my back on You?’”
That’s harder than believing for a miracle. That’s not as nice a feeling. That feels and seems weak, like you’re rolling over saying, “Whatever, looks like I’m gonna die”. That feels like you’re failing somehow. Is it because the ‘faith is believing and not taking ‘no’ for an answer’ theory was drilled into me for so long?
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
The reality of faith is that it gives you peace with God (vs 1), faith gives you access to His Grace (vs 2), faith gives you hope (vs 2-5), but faith doesn’t always give you what you want.
Hope is our anchor in the tough times. This leads to growing in God when we’re suffering, which produces perseverance and character, which leads to hope (Hebrews 6:19). This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
When my Mum died, many said we didn’t have enough ‘faith’. People even rang upon hearing the news asking to visit the hospital and pray for a resurrection. Mum dying was hard, but we felt peace. However, facing criticism for our lack of faith was sickening; there was nothing peaceful about that.
I think that sometimes the thing you need to look for isn’t a miracle. What we need to look for is:
- Do I have peace?
- Do I have grace?
- Do I have hope?
This is what I believe.
If you say ‘yes’—even just a little—then you have faith, whether you understand your circumstance or not.