Do you have faith? Do you ever have doubts? How do you combine the two? How does that work? Does faith depend on evidence or does it go beyond the evidence?
Tough questions…especially when going through times where the evidence for faith is on thin side. I think the Bible does offer some insight into these questions and one of the ways that it deals with this is by pointing to “Signposts” in the past…places where God showed up in clear way and made a difference that only He can.
John writes his Gospel with the need for evidence (or “signposts” if you will) assumed as part of what is needed in order to believe. In fact, he comes up with seven lines of evidence
Changing water into wine in John 2:1-11
Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-18
Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
Jesus’ walk on water in John 6:16-24
Healing the man born blind in John 9:1-7
Raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
This idea that “signposts” are sometimes needed to get you through the tough times is by no means a foreign idea to the Bible…one of the most common commands in the Old Testament is “Remember…” Probably because we seem to be wired to forget the past in the midst of the turmoil of the present or the fear of the future.
But it is in the present where we most need to remember…regardless of the circumstances of the moment…that God has acted in the past and He will continue to do so. In John 11, Mary and Martha firmly trust in Jesus and know in their hearts that He can make a difference if he comes in time. What they don’t believe, is that Jesus could make a difference even if he comes too late (by their reckoning). Their thinking is parallel in our lives…we believe that God can make a difference in our own lives….if we get that job that we want….that house over there….that promotion…or perhaps miraculously healed from our illness, but like Mary and Martha…we have a hard time seeing that God might have something better planned and it is those moments where God isn’t doing what we want that we need to remember His faithfulness in the past and trust Him in the present.
We also need to be encouraged by how Jesus treats those he encounters with doubts. He doesn’t lecture Martha or Mary and when his own cousin sends messengers about his doubts (Matthew 11) Jesus responds with love and more signposts.
In the next post we’ll ask the question, “What’s it like when we think things are going great or horrible and God thinks the exact opposite?” Sometimes we think a signpost is pointing one way, but really it is going another and it is only when we see what God is really doing that we realize that.