Confession, Reality and Faith
Faith is a difficult thing to quantify. Jesus said that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed that you would be able to command a mountain to be moved from here to there. The seed of the mustard tree is among the smallest seeds, so we could only imagine what we might be able to accomplish if our faith was much larger, but for most of us even the idea of having mustard seed sized faith is daunting. Many of us probably relate to the father who cried out to Jesus, “I believe, please help my unbelief.” What can we do to get from weak faith to strong faith?
We can say with certainty that faith is pretty important, in fact the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, “And it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:6a (NLT). There are some who grab a hold of this concept and run hard with it, and it almost seems as though they have placed their faith in faith rather than in Jesus. There are some who will tell us that in order to have faith, we must speak positively about things as we want them to be rather than how they are at present. If we are sick, we must never say that we are set, but instead we must proclaim with our mouths, “I am healed,” even if we have all of the symptoms of the sickness. In other words, there are those who will tell us that what is standing between us and our healing are the words that come out of our mouth.
I once used an illustration to demonstrate the fallacy of believing that we must ignore reality in the words that come from our mouths when we need something from God. “There was this time when I was really sick, but I had heard that I must never make a negative confession, so I kept saying, ’I am well, I am well.’ God heard my confession and told me, ‘If you are okay with your present condition, so am I.’” I do not believe that God wants us to ignore or deny the reality of our situation, but instead he wants us to bring our needs before him, boldly. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
God is not displeased to hear us speak about our needs. Faith is not about saying the right words, it is about having the right heart. If we are in the midst of a harrowing experience like David was in Psalm 23 when he said, “When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” he was telling it like it is, rather than how he would like it to be. It was a statement of perception or fact. The faith was demonstrated when he said, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Faith is indeed important, but it is not an end in and of itself and neither is it the greatest of the virtues.“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV). When I am in need I remember the words of the old gospel song: “Now let us, Have a little talk with Jesus, Let us, tell Him all about our troubles, He will, Hear our faintest cry, And He will, answer by and by…” I do not want to place my faith in faith, but rather in the author and finisher of our faith. He is well aware of what we face and he delights in helping us bear our burdens.