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Have Faith - or have Trust?2 years ago
ReSource Minister Chris Oldroyd gets us thinking about what it means to trust in God's bigger and wider plan for our lives, and the peace that inevitably follows. He shares an experience of healing that roots the message in personal testimony. "Realising His unfailing and unending faithfulness to us – that’s trust, that’s peace".
A few weeks ago I wrote about the longing many of us express: “I wish I had more faith!” We discovered that the answer is much simpler than we might think. This week we’ll uncover a further liberating fact about faith.
I love the account in Daniel chapter three of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Jews who held influential positions in the foreign country of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar had made a towering golden image which he required everyone in the land to fall down and worship. Those who did not were to be thrown alive into a blazing furnace. The three refused to comply: they worshipped only the one true God. A group of envious Babylonians reported this to the king who ‘furious with rage’ summoned the three, commanding them there and then to worship the image on pain of immediate consignment to the flames. “What god”, he asked “will be able to rescue you then?” Their reply? “The God we serve is able to save us, but even if He does not, O king, we will not worship the image.” And of course we know that the Lord did indeed rescue them. “Even if He does not…” That’s liberating! That wasn’t lack of faith.
It went beyond it – into trust.
It was trust in God’s bigger picture, wider plan for them which they could not see but they trusted Him enough to know that if His plan was not to rescue them, He had an even better one because He is a loving, caring and faithful God who has only our best interests always at heart.
They could relax into that trust; it took away all their earnest pleading that they would be delivered because if they weren’t there was an even better outcome. When we realise this in our own lives we enter a place of peace and our striving ceases. No longer do we have to ‘work up’ faith. Of course we are to have faith and expectancy but also to rest in confidence in His perfect plan for us that transcends our limited faith.
Isaiah tells us the same thing. The AV/King James version describes it well: “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusts in thee” (26.3). I like that word ‘stayed’. I think of Abraham, an old man leaning (staying) all his weight on a sturdy staff, trusting totally on its strength to hold him up. Do you see the progression? Staying (looking steadfastly to) ….leads to Trust…which grows Peace.
Trust is faith at its extremity. It’s a place of peace.
But there’s more. In several places in the New Testament we read of what has been achieved by having ‘faith in God’, for example Eph 3.12; Gal 2.16,20; Phil 3.9. In Mark 11.22 Jesus enjoins His disciples to ‘have faith in God’. These of course are valid translations but the literal Greek does not quite say that. It says ‘have (the) faith of God’. That greatly adds to our understanding of faith; it is saying ‘have God’s faith, God’s faithfulness’. ‘Faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ are the same words in Greek. The bible assures us of God’s faithfulness to us in several places, for example in 2 Tim 2.13 where He remains faithful to us even if we lose faith in Him.
Realising His unfailing and unending faithfulness to us – that’s trust, that’s peace.
May I share a personal story?
From an early age I had suffered from back pain due to sports injuries. Over the ensuing thirty years, and having found Christ in the meantime, it had become worse so much so that twice a week it took two physios together to straighten me up. I went to healing services up and down the country and went up for prayer each time. I did all I could to produce enough faith to be healed, but to no avail. One Sunday in my own church a man with a well known healing ministry especially for those whose legs were of unequal length, apparently the cause of much back pain, came to preach. He asked anyone in the 800 strong congregation who had back pain to stand. About 300 stood! He called forward groups of eight at a time to be prayed for and we saw God heal almost all each time. This of course took a long time and my family had to go without my having been prayed for.
When we were home our young son asked if I had legs of unequal length. I didn’t know, so I sat upright on a chair with my legs out straight. We discovered that one was indeed shorter than the other. I simply said “well, you’d better pray for me, then”. For the first time I felt at peace and relaxed, content to trust that God’s faithfulness trumped my limited faith and whatever the outcome was, it would be OK. My wife Fran and our two children knelt on the floor. She had only got as far as saying “Lord, we thank you for the wonderful things we have seen you do today….” When I felt a tugging in my leg, and there it was – visibly extending! Our faithful God had healed me within seconds. How we praised Him. Since then I have had the joy of seeing Him lengthen other people’s legs as we have prayed with that same sense of easy trust in His faithfulness.
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."
Praise God that they aren’t!