For about the past six months, I have had to ask some more difficult questions of the Father in regards to faith; what it is, how it is alive, and how to live a life by faith. Growing up in more charismatic circles, I certainly saw people who viewed faith in some strange ways. Many thought that you got the good things in life because of your faith. They also had a consequential aspect to living in faith. If there were things going wrong in life, then you simply didn't have enough faith, or possibly there was sin in your life that was keeping you from God's best. Today, we see that splattered all over the Christotainment industry. But there is merit to that line of thought.
The book of James really is a book about faith. James 4:2 says "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God." Many faith movements have used this scripture to justify their belief system in getting that BMW or that house they can't afford, or even the clothes they wear or their circle of friends. That is pretty easy to do unless you read James 4:3, which says "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." So much of the intentions with the word of faith movement is derived on half of a thought in the book of James.
James also says one piece of Scripture that doesn't sit well in my mind, being a person dead set against legalism in the Church. Earlier in the book, in chapter 2, he states, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
When I was studying this book during the fall, I had a real come to Jesus moment as the Lord asked me where my faith was alive. I didn't have a good answer. Over the last couple of years, God has blessed us financially, and we had for the first time been able to live well on the money that I am fortunate to make at my job. Before that, it seemed we were living by faith every week. Julie once said, "You know, having faith is great, unless you have to use it." We were having to use it often, to say the least.
But during this time of provision from God, through an employer, I hadn't had to use my faith very often. That is until about 6 months go.
My friend Chris is dealing with a rare form of cancer that is literally destroying his entire body.
Chris needs a miracle to survive. He isn't yet 30, and is going through the battle of his lifetime. As I began to pray for he and his wife, I was praying the "God, you can do anything" prayer. James talks about that kind of faith as well. He goes on to say in verse 19 "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." The way that I see this, I believe that God can do anything. So what. So do the demons! I began to realize that there is a vast gap between believing that God can do something and knowing that He will.
For those of you who are close to this family, you know that my wife has had some pretty serious health issues over the past three weeks. To make a long story short, she was rushed to the emergency room with severe lower abdominal pain. It was diagnosed as a kidney infection and after a CAT scan, they discovered a "mass in her abdomen that was about 6 cm wide." They instructed us to go to her OBGYN asap. We went the next day to see our friend Garrett who had delivered Salem and Josiah. After a sonogram, he pulled us into his office, and said that it was about 10 cm in width (about the size of a baby's head) and that he needed to find out what it was and why it was there. He mentioned that he would get an OR booked that day if she didn't have a kidney infection. That freaked this young dad out. All of the scenarios were running through my head. What if my wife had cancer? Is my faith alive enough to weather that storm?
They took a blood test, and 4 days later, we found out that it probably wasn't cancer. Big sigh of relief! But Julie has another appointment tomorrow because there is still something there that shouldn't be. So, we will find out then what we are going to do next.
James says that we have not because we ask not, but if we ask and do not get what we want, it is because of the wrong motive. This also denotes a fundamental understanding of asking for the things in a way that you know the Father will provide. So, being a person of little faith, I am left with the challenging question. Do I believe that my Father will heal my friend Chris? Do I believe that He will protect my wife and family from harm? I think that there are far too few of people in this world that could answer that question as a yes with certainty if it related to their circumstance. I am somewhere in the middle. I have begun the journey from a hope in God to a knowing of God. I pray that that journey will increase the faith that I need to truly impact the people that I love and be about God's choice for me. I am in progress, and am consistently thankful that despite my unbelief and lack of faith, that God is still good and still in charge.