By Allen White
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:14-20
I’ve prayed for people to be healed, and I’ve seen them healed. I’ve prayed for others to be healed, and they weren’t healed. Once, I even prayed for someone to die, and she died. My prayer didn’t kill her. It was her time to go.
Some teach that prayers aren’t answered because of a lack of faith. I can assure you, I had just as much faith when I prayed for those who were healed as I did for those who weren’t.
It’s not up to me to decide who should be healed, who should wait, and who shouldn’t be healed. That’s God’s determination. When I get to Heaven, though, God and I are going to have a big talk about why He does what He does. Or else I will become so enamored with His presence that I will forget all of my questions.
The disciples had prayed before with great success (Luke 10:17). Why didn’t it work this time? Faith doesn’t come from us. Often we resort to having faith in faith, when we really need faith in God.
This time around, when the disciples prayed for the boy and flipped the big “God switch” to turn on a miracle, they discovered God isn’t attached to a switch. They were caught up in a method when they should have been caught up with their Master.
Many of us believe if we do [fill in the blank], God will bless us, and if we avoid [fill in the blank], God will also bless us. The problem is we get so fixated on our performance and what worked last time, we forget to focus on the One who blesses us.
Have you ever given someone a gift they didn’t appreciate? Flowers, candy, love songs and dinners out can’t replace romance that comes from the heart. A jerk with a box of candy is still a jerk.
Yes, God requires our obedience, but He wants obedience from our hearts not just from our works. What if our children obeyed us, but didn’t love us? They did what we said, but they didn’t want a relationship with us. Is that what parents really want? Well, some days we might settle for that, but that’s not what we really want.
One evening I was driving through Black Mountain, North Carolina. I needed something from CVS. The speed limit in downtown Black Mountain is 20 mph. I’m not sure that my car can even coast at 20 mph.
A police officer about half my age escorted me into the parking lot of CVS. His emergency lights screamed through the darkness, “Your next customer has arrived.”
The officer asked the usual questions: “Good evening, sir. Do you know what the speed limit is in downtown Black Mountain? Do you know how fast you were going? Could you provide me with your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance?”
I very respectfully replied, “I don’t know, sir. About 30 mph (I had no idea). And, here you are, sir” in that order to his questions. It’s strange calling someone who could potentially be my son “sir.” Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling a great deal of love for this person in my life. But, I was very motivated to treat him kindly and with respect.
My motivation wasn’t love. My motivation was lack of punishment, i.e. a donation to the Black Mountain city government. On my way out of town, I didn’t touch the gas pedal. I used the brake both up hill and down. Who knew my car could drive at 18.5 mph?
Healing requires a willing recipient, a faith-filled pray-er, and a willing God. God won’t do anything outside of His plan no matter how many times we ask.
When the epileptic boy’s father asked the disciples to heal him, they said, “Sure, we can do that.” They couldn’t, and neither can you or I. Only God can heal.
How do we know when God wants to do something? He tells us and then He gives us the faith to do it. Faith is not a product of human will. Faith is a gift from God. Even the tiniest amount of faith can produce profound miracles. But, no mountain is moving anywhere without God’s consent.
Where have you tried and failed to perform God’s will? Was it God’s will or did you just feel strongly about it? Do you find yourself seeking after God or seeking after what He can do for you?
God desires a relationship with you over and above anything else. I have found that God will often delay answering a prayer because He knows that once I have the answer I might not talk to Him as much. As in any other relationship, God wants to be with us “just because.” He delights in us. He wants to use us to do great things. But, most of all, He wants us.
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