What Happens When Your Shadow Breaks? When Faith Feels Empty

While you may not have tried this before you should test it out. You will need to wait until there is a sunny day, or perhaps purchase a really bright light. Then when the conditions are right go find someone who has some physical problem. Walk past them and see if, when your shadow passes over them, they are healed.

In Scripture you can read about a story when this actually happened to Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. While it is true that the Apostle Peter’s shadow ministry worked quite well, mine sure doesn’t. My shadow seems to be broken, as it doesn’t seem to do anything other than give a little bit of shade.

One of the common terms associated with Christians is the word hypocrite. I think there are lots of bad examples which have led to that association. When we think of that word we may only associate it with some kind or moral failure. Someone who says they are one thing but living another. However, as a church we can say we are something, but not be.

We can say we are loving, and not be. We can say we are accepting, and not be. We can say we work in the power of the Holy Spirit and miracles happen, but no one ever see it.  We can say God heals, and it is His will, and no miracles happen. This has been the story of many youth and young adults I have interviewed. Even a close friend told me, ‘In all my days of attending me it was real.‘ This had to do with his perception that if the supernatural wasn’t seen, then God must not be present or real.

We certainly need to believe in the greatness of God, the unexpected, and the impossible.  The Bible is full of examples of incredible faith. Stories of how God broke into the normal everyday lives of people and the supernatural took place. From healing, the dead being raised, nations saved from disaster, to God providing food. These are all part of the story of the Church.

Here though lies the struggle for many.  When they are taught something but don’t see it, questions and doubt can arise.  When a friend or family faces sickness what will happen? What happens when their prayers don’t seem to get answered? I have seen over and over again, as tragedy or sickness strikes, many run to God. But there are those who run the other way. People have questioned did I not have enough faith?  Does God not care for me as much as the people that God did heal? Maybe God can’t do anything?  Maybe the Bible is wrong?  Maybe my church is wrong? Maybe He isn’t real at all?

The answer cannot be to lower our standards. Instead, we simply need to be what we say we are. I do believe in miracles. However, I have never walked on water. That does not mean I don’t believe Jesus did. I know God heals. I also know people who have prayed for healing and have died. Some people have claimed that their church has written a check they could never cash. What if some of the things we tell everyone will happen, never do. What if our promises turn up empty?

This is one topic which I personally struggle with. Trying to find the balance between the reality of living in a broken world and knowing the Kingdom of God is at hand. I am not even sure if we are supposed to have a balance. I have my own questions for God as to why I have friends who have experienced miracles while I have had close friends succumb to sickness.

What I have concluded is I must live in expectation.  I want to live a life of ‘awe’. Perhaps God is so big, so great, so mysterious I won’t understand it all this side of heaven. I certainly want, and try, to live a life of faith. I want to live in a way that pleases God, living like Jesus the best I can. In speech, action, character, and even in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I realize our faith comes from more than just our teachings. The Apostle Paul writes, ‘For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:5)  We cannot diminish the work of the Holy Spirit.

I am so thankful God does work today. When I see things happen which are simply unexpected and impossible, it reminds me of the greatness of the God we serve. I hope everyone has these experiences which will remind them how real God is.

I have also concluded that miracles and even repeated signs of the supernatural, will not keep people in their churches. While I know many would disagree, I want to point out a few biblical examples. The Israelites had a pillar of fire and cloud of smoke hovering over them and still they questioned, doubted, and rebelled against Moses and God. They were brought out of Egypt and all would have personally witnessed the plagues and the power of God. Another example is Jesus. Thousands saw him do miraculous signs and wonders. Even Judas would have witnessed Jesus bringing people back from the dead.  However all the witnesses of these events did not follow Him. Just ‘shock and awe’ does not retain.

However, a faith without ‘faith’ is nothing. It is dead, useless and keeps no one. In the end we need to seek after God. We can agree with the prophet Habakkuk, ‘LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.‘ (Habakkuk 3:2, NIV) We are even instructed to eagerly desire Spiritual gifts. We need to be faithful to the Word of God.

Trouble, sickness, loss of some kind will come to us all. Life isn’t all roses but through it all we are promised we have, ‘a friend who sticks closer than a brother.‘ (Proverbs 18:24b) In our troubles we can go to the one who also suffered. We can run to the one who overcame.

We can believe for God to work in the big things in life. We also can see God in our every day lives. He sustains us. Every perfect gift comes from Him. Truthfully the miraculous is always happening. Our eyes are blinded to it because we have narrow sight. The fact our world exists is a testimony to a creative miracle. That fact matter stays together is unexplainable. Your body is a living miracle in the complexity of your creation. The fact we can love defies explanation. God is indeed at work.

God is ever present, and ever working, even in our weaknesses and sufferings. At times we will be very aware of how close He is, while other times we will have many questions for Him. However, in all circumstances, always stand on the hope that He will never leave you, He is always there to turn to, and to give you strength for every hardship you will face. Even in suffering make sure when you run, you run into His arms.

 

 

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