Job and the Son of God were both tested/tempted by Satan with permission from God and since both remained strong in faith, the devil had to retreat. But when we remain stuck in a difficult situation for a long time with no respite, then thoughts about God having probably forgotten about us, start cropping up. With that the questions from others who claim to be our well-wishers, about reasons for no help from God, further create doubts in our minds. And we are left with questions but no answers.
Does our past affect our relationship with God? Jairus, a Jewish leader, came to Lord Jesus with a desperate plea to save his daughter who was ‘at the point of death’ (Mark 5:22-42). He wanted the Lord to come ‘and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live. Jairus wanted the Lord to leave everything and move but in between, a woman with a twelve years of blood flow came in, determined to get healed for ‘she had suffered many things (separation from her husband and family due to uncleanness) from many physicians, she had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse’. She said (to herself) ‘if only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well’. The Greek word ‘lego’ means ‘say, denoting speech in progress’ and she kept on saying this to herself till she reached and touched the Lord’s cloak and was healed. She was physically weak, alone with no one to help, ceremonially unclean and faced severe punishment for touching a Rabbi, but she pushed herself to do it and her faith was answered.
By then, Jairus was probably frantic and the Lord stopped to find out ‘Who touched Me?’ His aim was to bless the lady with the wholeness of healing of the body and soul, for she was the only one referred to by the Lord as ‘daughter’. We hear someone giving testimony about his healing or blessings and we also want that but do not want to push forward against the forces of darkness that keep on hindering us through various negative thoughts. And Jairus received the message about what he feared, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ Jairus could have given up in despair but he listened to the Lord say, ‘Do not be afraid, only believe’. The people at Jairus’ house ridiculed Lord Jesus for saying, ‘The child is not dead, but sleeping’.
The woman with the blood flow received respite from the twelve years of darkness and gloom in her life while Jairus’ daughter had given him twelve years of sunshine in his life that was extinguished but restored by the Lord. From the two, the woman and Jairus, who do we want to identify with? Are we willing to ignore the visible earthly knowledge about the near impossibility of a situation in our life to believe?
While teaching about salvation and the difficulty a rich man faces in believing, Lord Jesus told the disciples, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible’ (Mark 10:27). The woman made way for herself in the crowd, overcoming her fears, physical weakness and doubts; Jairus believed and waited and both received the blessing they sought.
Two blind men followed Lord Jesus, crying out and saying, Son of David, have mercy on us’ (Matthew 9:27-30). The Son of God did not pay any attention to their cries but moved off to the house He was staying in. But when the blind men followed Him into the house, He asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ He was not trying to check His own power to heal but their faith in Him and their reply was about surety of faith, ‘Yes, Lord’. The Lord touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you’. Two years back, during the serious sickness of my wife, I panicked and suffered the consequences. The one who dares, walks on water and glorifies the Lord, for salvation in and through Him is for everyone but many are led astray by doubts about the love of God.
When the answers are not forthcoming and the situation keeps getting worse, we start considering the thoughts of unbelief and doubt that the devil plants in our mind. This is the natural reaction but we are made to believe and live in the supernatural and that is what faith is all about. God revealed Himself to Moses as ‘I AM’ and He remains that, always in the present, for He is not evolving and changing (Exodus 3:14). God touched Moses and he was totally transformed from one hiding in the wilderness to be a prophet unlike anyone else, ‘whom the LORD knew face to face’ (Deuteronomy 34:10). God answers a call of faith and changes the lives of those who turn to Him to seek Him.
Why does a capable and willing God delays answering our prayers? You are being transformed day by day and strengthened to receive and be a blessing to someone else also. The blessing pronounced by God on Abram about becoming a great nation; to have a great name; be a blessing; assured of God’s hand against his enemies and all the families of the earth being blessed in him, was when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:2-4). His son Isaac was born when he was 100 years old and only after his name was changed to Abraham, a father of many nations and his wife Sarai to Sarah, mother of many nations (Genesis 17:5;15). This was when they were both past their child bearing age and physical ability. God never overrides any one’s will which is affected by one’s thoughts and desires.
Abraham and Sarah had to continuously hear the blessing of God on them to bear a child, for ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ (Romans 10:17). What we are speaking to others and to ourselves about our state, affects our faith and actions directly? The brothers John and James prayed to the Lord ‘to do for us whatever we wish’ to be asked by Him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ (Mark 10:35-38). They desired places of honor on His right and left in His kingdom to be told by the Lord, ‘You do not know what you ask’. Lord Jesus while teaching the disciples about His coming in glory to judge all told that ‘then the sheep (the righteous) will be on his right hand and the goats (the wicked) on His left (Matthew 25:31-41). The ones on the right will ‘inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’. However, the ones on the left will be sent into ‘the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.
When we pray, do we first fully analyze and understand the implications of the effect of that on you, your families and others around you once the prayer is answered? Does it glorify God for answering that or will His name be tarnished by that? Is there some deep hidden purpose in seeking that, which probably you have also not fully realized? The two brothers were probably affected by the discussion/dispute among all the disciples ‘as to which of them would be greatest’ (Luke 22:24). James was the first Apostle to be martyred in AD 44 while John was the last in AD 100, though he was placed in a large pot of boiling oil but suffered no hurt and both suffered greatly for the Lord.
Apostle Thomas refused to believe in the resurrection of Lord Jesus unless ‘I put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side’, where the Roman soldier had ‘pierced His side with a spear’ to check and ensure He was dead (John 20:25). The disciples were told by the Lord Himself about His crucifiction and resurrection, yet they faltered. Are we willing to believe what is written in the Scriptures as the Word of God?
Job was declared by the LORD God Himself ‘a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil’ (Job 1:8). Yet his three friends and everyone else considered him a great sinner who needed to repent of his sins. Despite all this Job could confidently say, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him’ (Job 13:15-16). When, even after a long time no answer to prayer is forthcoming, many stumble and start turning away. Job persevered and was blessed with double of all that he had lost, for he trusted in the fairness and justice of God and his own innocence. Many others give up after being dissuaded by others, after a little waiting, thinking that maybe God’s desire is different. If what you pray for is so important then why abandon the quest?
The Israelites had seen all the miracles performed by God in Egypt, how they received all that they asked the Egyptians, the parting of the Red Sea and destruction of the Egyptian army, yet when Moses was on the mountain for forty days, they simply panicked and made a golden calf. Even Aaron joined them in this.
Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, cried out to Lord Jesus to have mercy on him, many tried to hush him but ‘he cried out all the more’ (Mark 10:46-52). On being called, he was sure of a change in his life from that moment on and ‘throwing aside his garment’, he came to the Master to be asked the same question, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He did not hesitate, for he knew what he wanted to answer that I may ‘receive my sight’, was blessed and followed the Lord thereafter. The Israelites were commanded by the LORD to go around Jericho once for six days and on the seventh day, go around seven times (Joshua 6). The priests were to then blow the trumpets and the people were to ‘Shout, for the LORD has given you the city’. They shouted a Hallelujah and the walls of Jericho fell down inwards.
How many of us are still clinging to their old cloaks and way of life and unwilling to let go? Many are going round and round about their mountain, wanting the Lord to do something without their shout of faith. The walls will only collapse once we step forward for God can and is willing but waiting for us to act and move forward for Him to part the Red Sea.
Does Satan also work miracles to lead us astray? Any miracle that does not glorify God or is not as per God’s ways can be from the devil who may deceive us. Lord Jesus, while teaching the disciples about the end times told them that ‘false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect’ (Matthew 24:24). Nothing to wonder about, for Satan himself ‘transforms himself into an angel of light’ to deceive (2 Corinthians 11:14). Any miraculous deed, if performed in Lord Jesus’ name, must bear His footprint, for His name means His way and character as revealed in the Scripture. The devil’s miracles also, like his nature, do not build bonds but destroy relationships through misleading tricks that are dazzling but managed through deceit and are never beneficial.
Pharisees wanted Lord Jesus to show them a sign from heaven but He refused while mentioning the sign of Prophet Jonah (Matthew 16:1-2). Jonah was in the darkness of the belly of the fish for three days and three nights and so was the Lord in the tomb (Jonah 1:17). Therefore, a miracle is not necessarily always a manifestation of truth and it has the power to point us in the right direction but equally, it can also send us in the wrong way. The miracles Moses performed before Pharaoh were initially replicated by the Pharaoh’s magicians but they could neither restore the situation nor go beyond a certain level.
Satan’s basic aim is to take us away from God and he uses various means for this. Like Eve was tricked, we are also fed lies that God does not care for us and the lie takes hold of our thoughts and finally we get convinced, especially after a little longer time of suffering. Job’s question to his three friends and to God was to know the reason for his suffering, yet he continued in faith and did not falter.
Daniel and his three friends were taken captive to Babylon at a very young age but they decided to refuse to eat the delicacies of the king’s table and not defile themselves. The LORD God blessed them and at the end of their training, ‘in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king tested them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm’ (Daniel 1:20). Nebuchadnezar, the king, commanded that all people bow down to the huge golden image that he had created and worship that at the given signal (Daniel 3:16-18;23). Anyone found disobeying this was to be thrown into the fiery furnace and the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, refused, saying, ‘our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O King’. They were thrown into the furnace that was heated seven time more than usual and the fire killed those men who bound and took up the three to throw them in. But the king then saw ‘four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God’. The devil would have tried to affect the thoughts of the three young men about their bad luck and being forgotten by God due to their ancestors’ sins as punishment. What would you do in such a situation for the doubts invade about the will and ability of God under such a situation?
God can and is always ready to rescue but the devil starts questioning our faith through various ways, even close friends, to stop us. Any redeeming work of God will always happen only in the name, power and authority of Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit for the glory of God the Father and always for salvation and growth of the believers and the church. Anyone who tries to do anything to satisfy someone’s curiosity or to edify himself is not acting on behalf of God. No situation is too big for God for He is the Creator and Sovereign ruler over all. Apostle Paul has encouraged us all, ‘He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32). This is what the devil wants us to forget and this is what we must remember, for He who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us is always willing and ready to step in, though at times there may be a delay to test or strengthen our faith.
LORD God is unchanging and He blessed Adam and Eve in the Garden and then Abraham also to be a father of many nations. He is ever willing to bless us also and redeem us from our difficult situations. He who became Man, suffered willingly for us, even death on the cross to redeem us, why would He now be hesitant to answer our prayers especially now that He is seated at the right hand of God in heaven with all power and authority over everything? But when we start using our own means, ignoring His extended hand, He steps back. He is willing but are we?