28th October 2023
When All Seems Hopeless Hope in the Lord
God is still a God of miracles.
Though it may look different than when Jesus walked the earth, we still hear of God's divine intervention all around us - tumours that miraculously disappear, hardened criminal surrenders their life to Christ and has a powerful ministry to the unsaved, an unborn child who's been declared "unfit for life" is born perfectly healthy. Hard to reach cultures are coming to Christ through divine intervention.
Yes, God still reveals His power and supremacy through these miraculous acts.
Likely, many of us haven't experienced a life-altering miracle in our own lives (other than the miraculous regeneration of our hearts).
Although there are times that we can see evidence of God at work in our lives, there are also seasons when it seems as though prayers are being answered in everyone's lives but ours.
Over the last decade or so, my family has experienced more than one of these seasons.
We have prayed for direction, healing, and answers to many of the trials that we have faced and, while God has indeed been faithful and good to us in so many ways (to sustain, protect, change, and lead us), many of those specific prayers have seemed to go unanswered.
When I see others around me praising God for his healing touch or powerful answer to prayer, if I'm honest, it sometimes stirs up mixed emotions within me.
Although I'm encouraged and thankful to see God at work and answering prayers in a way that brings him glory and relieves someone's pain, I'm also tempted to wonder, "Why not me?", "Why does God seem silent to my prayers?" and, "Am I doing something wrong?".
Jesus speaks right into the heart of these questions and concerns with two clear commands and encouragements - Mark 5:36,
"But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe.'"
Do not fear.
Don't fear how your circumstances may appear.
Don't fear that God has forgotten or doesn't care.
It is God's undeserved grace when he answers our prayers for a change in circumstances, and it is just as much his undeserved grace when he allows our circumstances to continue for his good purposes.
In fact, because we are so naturally drawn to comfort and finding our identity in this world, difficult circumstances can be God's severe mercy to keep us near to him.
Unfulfilled longings can actually protect us from living independently and comfortably, as though this fallen world was our home.
If our eyes are fixed on the many people suffering around us, rather than Jesus, it will only add to the heaviness of our own life and tempt us to despair and question where God is.
Therefore, Christ commands us not to fear, but rather -
Only believe "is a command for the present, continuous action urging us to maintain the faith we initially demonstrated when coming to Jesus."
In other words, when circumstances tempt you to grow weary from praying and enduring after years of unanswered prayers, or when you see Jesus work powerfully in someone else's life while he continues to allow pain, trials, or sickness to continue in your own, fix your eyes on Him and the faith that initially drew you to him.
Remind yourself of what Jesus did for you on the cross, pardoning your sins, and be encouraged that no matter how circumstances may seem, your suffering is never meaningless.
When you find yourself being tempted to fear how circumstances appear on the surface, reclaim the promises that are yours in Jesus.
When we grow weary in long-suffering, we need to let his words ring loudly and frequently in our ears and our hearts - "Do not fear. Only believe."
This article originally appeared at Sarah's website .
This is an edited version. The full article is avaiable, on request
Sarah Walton is a stay-at-home mum with four kids under twelve years of age.
She is the co-author of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017) and the co-author (alongside her husband) of Together Through the Storms.
After more than a decade of trials and learning to walk with Christ as her family navigates Lyme Disease, special needs, financial loss, and many other challenges, she shares how the gospel speaks into all areas of our lives and gives hope to our suffering. She blogs at Setapart.net and is a contributing writer at Desiring God, Revive Our Hearts, and Unlocking the Bible.