Meditations On Faith - 9
Faith Thrives On A Total
Lack Of Tangible Evidence.
`And Elijah said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the
sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing."
And seven times he said, "Go again." '
(1 Kings 18:43)
"Faith lightens every burden,
relieves every weakness." (PK175)
Background: Thanks to their apostasy,
and in accordance with the prediction of Elijah, Israel has been without rain
for three and a half years. Elijah has just belittled the prophets of Baal and
he has proven beyond any doubt that God is the only true God . . . and the
prophets of Baal have all been executed.
`With the slaying of the prophets
of Baal, the way was opened for carrying forward a mighty spiritual reformation
among the ten tribes of the northern kingdom. Elijah had set before the people
their apostasy; he had called upon them to humble their hearts and turn to the
Lord. The judgments of Heaven had been executed; the people had confessed their
sins, and had acknowledged the God of their fathers as the living God; and now
the curse of Heaven was to be withdrawn, and the temporal blessings of life
renewed. The land was to be refreshed with rain." (PK155)
The sky is clear, not a cloud is
to be seen. There was absolutely no reason to believe that it would rain that day
- but with his Carmel victory behind him, and with a humbled and repentant
Israel surrounding him, Elijah knew that the curse had been removed and that it
would rain - not at some future time, but that it would rain that very day. Through faith, Elijah
knew that when all obstacles are removed, God does not delay to bless - not even
by a day.
And so, with clear skies above
and beyond, and with no sound of thunder or rain, and before he has even prayed
for rain, Elijah rushes up to king Ahab
and confidently declares "Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of
abundance of rain." (1 Kings 18:41)
Through faith, Elijah
could hear rain were there was no rain.
Through faith, Elijah
could see rain on a cloudless day . . .
`In an attitude of humility, "his
face between his knees," he interceded with God in behalf of penitent Israel.
Again and again Elijah sent his servant to a point overlooking the
Mediterranean, to learn whether there were any visible token that God had heard
his prayer. Each time the servant returned with the word, "There is nothing."
Six times the servant returned with the word that there was no sign of rain in
the brassy heavens.' (PK156)
Did Elijah become discouraged
after the first prayer? No, he simply continued praying. Did Elijah become
discouraged after the fifth prayer? No, he simply prayed again. Is this not a
lesson for you and I?
As for me, I must confess that
after I have prayed for some particular need more than once or twice, I do have
a tendency to start questioning God, and I start asking Him why He is giving me
a stone when He has promised to give me a
fish? I guess I need to learn from Elijah - I need to be more persistent
in asking; I need to simply keep asking - without questioning or doubting - until the
time that God knows is the right time for my request to be answered. Hence the
words of James . . .
"Ask, in faith, with no
doubting." (James 1:6)
When Jesus promised, "whatever
you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matthew 21:22), He did not
stipulate how many times we should verbally speak out our request. In the light of Elijah's example, I am
persuaded that "asking," therefore, is not a once-off exercise - but the relentless,
stubborn, persistent plea of the heart.
If God is in total control of the
universe, and I have surrendered my life to Him, surely I must also surrender to
the fact that He knows when, where and how to answer the pleas of my heart? If
my timing is not in harmony with His timing, then I must simply keep asking, "in
faith, with no doubting."
Faith simply cannot doubt, for
doubting is the opposite of faith. This is why faith hears the rain when it is
not raining, and it hears the rain loud and clear - not just as a drizzle, but
as an uninterrupted torrential shower.
`There is no
danger that the Lord will neglect the prayers of His people. The danger is
that in temptation and trial they will become discouraged, and fail to
persevere in prayer.' (COL175)
Faith simply asks and asks and
asks, and it simply keeps asking until such time as the tiny cloud appears in
the sky. Then, as the first drop of rain falls upon the forearm, we can stop
asking and we can start thanking . . .
Have we not been told that
we need to "fix our eyes
[or our faith,] not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." This fact must convince
us that faith thrives on a total lack of tangible evidence - on things unseen - and that a lack of
tangible evidence is
no reason to doubt, but rather a reason to grow in faith - for the lack of
tangible evidence is the fuel that keeps faith burning - and the less tangible
the evidence the stronger faith can become.
So whatever it is that you are
asking for, dear friend, if you believe that God's answer will be a blessing to
not a cursing, and you have removed all the obstacles, just keep asking - never doubting
for one moment that our great and wonderful
God will send the answer - just as He sent the rain on a cloudless day.
"Oh," you might respond, "but I
am not Elijah." Oh yes, but did Elijah have something that you do not have? Not
so! Scripture tells us that Elijah "was a
man subject to like passions as we are." (James 5:17)
All that stops us from
doing what Elijah did, therefore, is faith - and just think of it - if faith is fuelled by
a lack of tangible evidence, all we need to have the faith of Elijah is a
firm trust in God's faithfulness and a total lack of tangible evidence?
"Is anyone among you
suffering? Let him pray. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. Whatever you ask for in
prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. " (James
5:13; John 14:14; Mark
If you cannot see the way out of
a dilemma right now - remember that faith thrives on the unseen - and that what you cannot
see should make your faith the stronger. If you cannot see hope for the future,
remember that your hope is not based on what you can see, but on God and on His
faithfulness. If you have stopped asking for something, start again, right now -
for your asking is a lifeline into the temple of God - He knows what you need
and He will answer at just the right time and in just the right way - but you must just keep
Never give up, therefore. Never
stop asking. But do make every effort to remove the obstacles so that God can
answer your prayer.
"What are the obstacles?" you
I need not tell you what the
obstacles are. There is a little voice in the back of your mind. Hear Him.
`And Elijah said to his servant,
"Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is
nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." (1 Kings 18:43)