I believe. I believe. We say it like a mantra when we desperately want something to happen. I said it when I was a child. I believed my father would become a Christian. For years, as I spoke to the starlit, country sky, I was certain it was God’s will for our family.
Our parents were divided over most things, like having friends over for dinner. Daddy didn’t want company, while Mama was outgoing and thrived on conversations. Daddy worked in the field with the cattle; Mama read books voraciously. Daddy bailed hay on Sundays; Mama went to church. I thought Daddy’s salvation would solve all of their problems and consequently mine.
My parents divorced when I was 17 years old and my faith took a nosedive. My trust in God plummeted. If God had not heard my life-long, heart-felt prayer, how could I trust him? Did I not believe enough? Not have enough faith in God? What went wrong?
I struggled with this concept for years. If a child lays ill with a fever, is God obligated to heal him if I have enough faith? If my grandmother goes to the emergency room with a heart attack, will my prayers be effective? Will my believing be enough to heal her? If a little girl in Africa needs food, will God give her nourishment if I earnestly pray and believe?
Is my belief the key? Is my weakness or unbelief the cause of heartache and inaction on God’s part? Those may be questions we all wonder about.
One of the keys may be the belief part. What do we put our belief in? Do we trust in God or in our belief? Perhaps it’s like a test.
If God did not restore my parents’ marriage would I still believe in Him? Believe that He is in total control. God is not obligated to hear our prayer or act on our prayers. He does however, listen to our hearts.
My prayer as a child was self-centered. I wanted my world fixed, to be better, improved. I wanted my parents to stay together, to be happy. Was this a bad prayer, a wrong belief? No, marriages are sanctified, vitally important to God, but my focus was wrong. I prayed for the wrong reason. I prayed for myself. And yes, I thought about my father and his eternal life, but that was not the primary motivation for my prayer.
God searches our hearts, and if our prayer does not relinquish all control to Him, maybe we fail the test. If we believe our own prayers can persuade God to act, then we have not relinquished control. For example, if we are ill and do not get better and must go to the hospital, are we angry at God for not healing us?
We like having control. But we have to trust in God and His wisdom and might, not in our prayers and our belief.
Does God want what is best for us? Most certainly. But God and I may differ in what is best. I may believe health is essential. God may differ. He may see a larger picture or a bigger plan. He is in a battle for the souls of the world, a bigger job than health. If better health can help in the battle, bring people closer to God, then God will heal. Inversely, if a death will touch many lives, promote spiritual strength and enlightenment, then God may allow a death. Do we believe in God enough to allow him to do whatever He chooses? Are we willing to give ourselves up to God? Do we choose God or do we choose ourselves?
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18