Another week and more spilled coffee. God is testing my resolve. I am blaming my clumsiness on my inner ear, which is an unfortunate victim of a sinus infection. I have been plagued with sinus problems for years. I won’t bore you with the details because they aren’t relevant. What is relevant is that sinus infections are a major cause of discouragement in my life. The week started with me feeling well, and I was optimistic that the first antibiotic might actually defeat the infection. But, I soon started going down hill, again. I was praying that God would cure the infection and allow me to feel well. But there was something “off” with my prayers. While I earnestly desired that which I prayed for, it was as if my heart wasn’t really in it.
Thursday night I identified the problem. What was missing from my prayers was faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could do it, I just didn’t think that He was going to. Isn’t that how we tend to be as humans? If we struggle with something for long enough, and God doesn’t answer our prayers the way that we want Him to, we stop believing that He will. We may even stop praying about something all together. What is worse is that there is an implication in my doubts. I may not think it outright, but it is inferred by my conclusion: God doesn’t care about this. Which is the same as saying that God doesn’t care about me and isn’t seeking my good.
In Mark 9:22-24, a desperate father asked Jesus to help his son, if he could. When Jesus confronted the man about his “if” statement, the father replied, “I believe; help my unbelief!” That is where I found myself, once again, this week. My unbelief is more about God’s faithfulness than His power to help, but still, I need help. Usually, when I find myself in this place of needing to confront my unbelief, it is about my singleness. I pray and plead with God about my situation and the desires of my heart, but I look inside myself and see that lack of faith that thinks God isn’t going to change this circumstance.
There are areas of life that I never waver in my trust of God. I have learned not to worry about a job or money. God has been so faithful in providing for me and helping me through when I didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet. But these long-term desires remain unmet. Does that make God any less faithful? Of course, not! But it certainly seems to sway my faith so that I become, as the book of James puts it, “like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
I think of the Apostle Paul, who recorded in 2 Corinthians 12 that he had asked God three times to remove from him the “thorn,” the “messenger of Satan.” It does not seem that Paul’s faith wavered. God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you. . .” Those words have come to my mind often, over the past few years. This is the wrestling match of my singleness: learning to trust and believe in my core that His grace really is enough for me. I don’t need a man or healthy sinuses, I just need God and His grace that covers my sin. I need to believe that His strength can be made perfect in my weakness.
“I believe; help my unbelief!”
This week, I was reading in Romans and this passage caught my attention: No distrust made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:20-25)
I think it is time for me to stop praying for the human desires of this life, and instead spend more time praying that God will strengthen my faith (as I give glory to Him!), so that I will not waver.