Faith and the Sovereignty Factor
Many in our day equate bold faith with a kind of claiming that does not allow for God’s Sovereignty regarding the outcome; the idea being that real faith will ALWAYS produce the most desirable results, namely healing, promotion, deliverance, rescue and financial gain.
There is no doubt that many scriptures promise such things. However, we must always understand that even with those promises, we should factor in the Sovereignty of God, knowing that He is Lord over exactly when these promises are fulfilled.
For some of God's precious saints, the deliverance and rescue will be experienced in this world. How we thrill when this happens! What mercy and favor we see in this!
For others, physical deliverance will not take place this side of glory. Their rescue will be seen in the world to come.
There, in heaven, we will be free of all pain, hurt and insufficiency.
There, no blindness or short-sightedness will affect us. Our eyes shall see the full beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His regal and majestic splendor.
There, no deafness will diminish our ability to hear Christ's soothing voice calm our inner-most fears.
There, no physical restriction will afflict us. No blood bought saint in heaven will be confined to their bed or wheelchair for even a moment. Each of us will dance for joy in the presence of the King. As the hymn writer put it, "what a day of rejoicing that will be!"
All of these earthly and heavenly blessings were purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ as part of our great salvation and redemption, and He is the One who determines when this should take place in the life of each believer.
Think of the three Hebrew children, in Daniel chapter 3. Sentenced to the fiery furnace for their refusal to bow before the image of Nebuchadnezzar, we read, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (v. 16-18)
Did you catch that? They were saying (in so many words), “God WILL deliver us. We believe He will protect us miraculously even in the fire, but here's the deal.... EVEN IF HE DOES NOT we will not bow to the image.”
That is biblical faith in operation – clinging to the promises He has made while at the very same time, leaving the results completely in God’s Sovereign hands.
We see the exact same thing in Hebrews 11 in what is sometimes called “the faith hall of fame.” These are the champions of the faith. But notice what their faith did for them.
For some: GOOD THINGS
“who through faith conquered kingdoms (good), enforced justice (good), obtained promises (good), stopped the mouths of lions (good), quenched the power of fire (good), escaped the edge of the sword (good), were made strong out of weakness (good), became mighty in war (good), put foreign armies to flight (good). Women received back their dead by resurrection (good).” (v. 33-35)
For others: HARD THINGS
Some were tortured (hard), refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life (hard). Others suffered mocking and flogging (hard), and even chains and imprisonment (hard). They were stoned (hard), they were sawn in two (hard), they were killed with the sword (hard). They went about in skins of sheep and goats (hard), destitute (hard), afflicted (hard), mistreated (hard)— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts (hard) and mountains (hard), and in dens and caves of the earth (hard). (v. 35-38)
Those who endured the harder things IN NO WAY possessed a lesser faith than those who experienced the good things. In both cases, their great faith in God is noted and applauded. Faith allowed some to see dramatic and positive answers to prayer, even the miraculous, while others endured the harshest possible experiences of life and even the cruelest kinds of death, with their trust and hope in God still intact.
That, my friends is true, biblical faith. That is why Revelation 12 reads the way it does. Faced with the threat of martyrdom, a direct result of the devil's opposition, we are told that the believers "conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." Rather than being delivered and rescued in this world, their faith kept them true to Christ, even when it meant certain death. They were not defeated. This was a massive victory. They overcame the devil even at the cost of their lives. What a testimony to the keeping power of God!
God answers every prayer that is based on His promise to us. Sometimes His answer is "yes", sometimes "no" and sometimes "wait a while." When we see immediate answers to our prayers, we rejoice in God's provision. When no immediate answer seems to come and we are therefore asked to wait, it is with faith and patience we inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).
In 2 Corinthians 12, we read of Paul's thorn in the flesh. We are told that in order for Paul to not be filled with excessive pride a messenger of Satan (a satanic angel) was sent to buffet him. God allowed this in order to fulfill His purpose for Paul - character being more important to Him than temporal comfort. Whatever the exact nature of the "thorn in the flesh", obviously Paul did not like it one bit. He repeatedly asked God for deliverance from it. We read:
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (v. 7-10)
When sometimes, the answer is "no", as was the case here with Paul's thorn, may we look to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, and find all the strength and grace we need to endure. The Christian knows that in every situation, good and bad, God is working out His purposes for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), and His grace to us is sufficient, whatever it is we encounter in this world. All things occur through the loving sieve of His Sovereignty. True faith believes that, and therefore endures, seeing Him who is invisible, who is always watching over His word in order to perform it.
Truly God answers all our prayers. He delivers us from all our afflictions. But as to exactly when He fulfills His promise, faith leaves in His Sovereign hands and remains content to do so.
- John Samson