Some years back, I went through a particularly difficult time. My struggles seemed insurmountable. My faith had hit an all-time low.
I’d done my best to fight the ‘good fight’ of faith Paul spoke of—leaving off the ‘good’ part since losers in a fight rarely call the fight ‘good’—but figured I had failed miserably because my prayers remained unanswered. The healing I asked for stayed just beyond my reach. In my long wait, a tree of discouragement had sprouted and all but choked out my mustard-seed tree of faith. The only birds lodging in its gnarly branches were vultures waiting for their moment to strike[i].
Thankfully, the Lord didn’t leave me to climb out of that lowly place on my own. Since He’s ingeniously placed us in His body of believers, I figured it was high time to call in the troops. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord [ii].
There just so happened to be a number of faith-based healing rooms in the vicinity where people could go to receive extra prayer. I chose to visit one such place.
When my turn to be prayed for came, I plopped down into the chair and with a defeated sigh blurted out, “Can’t say I have much faith for healing right now.” There was no sense hiding my dirty laundry from these people. We had a history together. I’d been recipient of, witness to, and participant in praying for many healings in that place. I knew I was safe with them.
The leader flashed me a kindly smile and said, “You wouldn’t be here, Debbie, if you didn’t have faith.”
Such a simple answer. Yet, it made me realize I’d been going about this faith walk all wrong, using unanswered prayer as the standard to measure my faith by. And clearly losing because of it.
Knowing our tendency to faint in prayer, Jesus begins Luke 18 by urging us to pray and faint not. He proceeds to tell the story of a widow who keeps presenting her case before an unjust judge. There’s no fear of God in this guy who has the power to help her. No feelings of compassion in his heart toward her predicament. Yet, he finally vindicates her on the grounds that she’s wore him out with her asking.
The Lord then invites us to do the same with Him—“Wear me out! Please!”—assuring us that though answers to our prayers may be long in coming, He will indeed avenge us speedily. That’s not an invitation we get too often from others!
Encouraging as that is, it’s the Lord’s statement in verse 8 that keeps my prayer fires lit. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
I doubt there’ll be any blue-ribbon prizes handed out at the finish line to the one with the most answers to their prayers—since answered prayers are strictly God’s department. God is looking for pure and simple faith. That’s why the enemy is so all-fired bent on stealing it from us.
A person once point-blank asked me, “What’s it with these Christians who die of terrible diseases when they’re believing God to heal them? Did they have faith? or not?”
My answer was easy. The men and women of Hebrews 11 believed God . . . he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. They died 'in faith'. We call them our champions of the faith. Those Christians who died believing God for their healing are no less champions. They too died in faith. Theirs was a win/win situation because when God came for them, He found them in faith, and they received the ultimate healing.
Therefore, my goal in life is simple—that Jesus finds me ‘in faith’ when He comes. I pray He finds you in the same.