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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

My family will tell you I am not the world’s best patient. There is too much to do to lie still for long – after all, I have my latest novel to edit and speaking engagements to prepare for. And yet I know the severe sciatica in my right leg has a much greater chance of improving if I look after myself, apply heat to the affected area and stay off my feet as much as I can. I know too that pain and anti-inflammatory tablets will help – and yet I am reluctant to take them. I try to remain stoic – and not too grouchy and grumpy!

So what’s to be done? Well, eventually I do rest and take medication – but I also pray. And when I pray, I have two things in mind. Firstly, I ask God to bring healing and relief from the pain – at least enough to enable me to speak where I’m supposed to speak.  I know God can do this, because I have experienced it before. Several years ago, I was about to head to Turkey to visit a friend, when I ended up with excruciating lower back pain. We had planned a holiday together in the mountains near the Black Sea, which I knew would involve carrying a heavy backpack, climbing on and off buses, sleeping in hard beds – plus lots of walking. How would I ever manage? I couldn’t let me friend down – and besides, I really wanted to go. So I finally asked someone to pray for me at church one day for healing. At first, nothing seemed to happen – and I must admit I was slightly sceptical about it all. But later that afternoon, the pain lessened and finally lifted altogether. And during my time in Turkey, I had absolutely no problem doing all the things we had planned to do – praise God!

But the second thing I ask God as I pray is what I can learn through this time of pain. Is it perhaps that I have become a little too self-reliant, thinking I can do everything in my own strength? Is it that I need to learn to empathise more with others who are going through painful times? Or is it merely to develop more patience and perseverance in me? After all, writing novels does need both these qualities in vast measures – especially when it comes to that painstaking editing and re-writing process I have just begun.

And while I wait for God to answer both aspects of my prayer, I try to relax, knowing God is listening and will never forsake me. I am held in God’s loving arms, now and forever. I don’t know how or when God will answer, but I will keep praying and not give up, just as Jesus taught his disciples to do when he told them the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18). Jesus ends this story with some words I always find quite sad and challenging:

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

I want to be among those who are found to be full of faith. I want to learn to trust God more, whatever the circumstances. And right now, I pray for you too, if you are persevering through pain in any way. May God bring healing to you, just as you need, and the strength to stand firm until the end.

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Last week, as I was cruising along the M4 freeway west of Sydney, a large advertisement on an overpass caught my attention.  It was for a well-known chain of stores and said very little really – just two words in bold letters:

EXPECT CHANGE’

Yes, the ad did make me curious as to what sort of changes I might be likely to find in the particular chain of stores mentioned.  But more than that, it made me think whether I needed to hear such a message for my own life as well.  You see, I’m what you might call the archetypal ‘glass half empty’ person most of the time.  I can see possibilities in an idea or venture, but I’m also very good at seeing all the disasters that might occur as a result and the difficulties that might be encountered along the way!  That might well be a good characteristic to have at times, but it can also make one fearful about the future and reluctant to make any changes.  And it can lead to hopelessness and some degree of depression at least.

Yet life is all about change, isn’t it?  And the Christian life even more so.  After all, Jesus himself said:

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

So our Christian journey begins with radical change and continues on that way, since we are urged several times in Scripture to keep on growing in God.  Peter, for example, tells us to be like newborn babies and to ‘crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet 2:2).

Yet more than that, we belong to a God with whom nothing is impossible – a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and ever present, a God who hears and answers prayer, a God whose heart for us is just the same as it was towards his people way back in Jeremiah’s time:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)

Our role is to have faith in our amazing God, to expect that things will change and be different as we step out in trust and reliance on him.  Our role is to love God with our whole heart and to believe that his heart is for us, that he knows what is happening to us and is involved in our lives.  Around the same time as seeing the ‘Expect change’ sign on the freeway, I was also very challenged by a simple question Jesus asks in Luke 18:8:

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

I want to be full of faith in God.  While I might ‘count the cost’ carefully and weigh things up, I want also to be someone who is hopeful, expectant, up for any changes God might bring.  And I definitely want to be ready when the Son of Man comes.

How about you?

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