I came out of the store. There’s a man in a wheelchair. I think he is quadriplegic. One arm is bandaged and he might have had a feeding tube as well (I am not sure). As I maneuver the small table unto the back seat of my car, he must have greeted me or so. He then asked for my name; and I asked for his too – Nate. He said he liked my car and asked for the year. He asks where I am from. I told him Nigeria. “How do you like the USA?” he asked. I said I liked it just fine. He said he thinks I am around his age (35). I laughed and told him my age (I am much older than him). He said I didn’t look it. I said my bones tell me otherwise. Even as I made that statement, I felt awkward. What are my aches and pains compared to his? I asked if he was waiting for someone to pick him up. He said his mum is still in the store. I bid him good day, and he returned the wishes.
I sat in my car and kept watching him. I had a strong urge to go back and pray with him. But I felt the weight of my unbelief, and my numerous sins. What point is it to pray with him if I cannot pray him to full health; if I cannot ask him to get up and pick up his wheelchair?
So I watched and despaired. His mum and possibly much younger brothers came out of the store. They got into a small van but didn’t leave immediately.
My faith is convenient. We can be tested by a lot of things and appear to still have total faith in God. But the worst trial above divorce; above heartbreak; above financial troubles and so on is a health crisis. If you haven’t undergone one, your faith hasn’t been tested. Whether it is you personally or someone close like a sibling, a parent, or a child.
It is easy to sing in church when one is healthy. To believe or think one believes. To be completely without doubt. To be like Nathaniel – an Israelite in whom there’s no guile (John 1:47).
Has my faith really been tested if I have not lived in some part of the world where your (religious) believe determines if you are a second or third class citizen? Where you live under a cloud of the possibility of violence to your person and all you hold dear without provocation at any moment?
It is when health challenges occur that a lot of people love the Lord with their whole might, body and soul or try their hardest to do so (the greatest commandment – one of two on which all the law and prophets rest – Matthew 22:37-40). But therein can lie disappointment beyond measure, for like king David what we fast and pray for – the miracle we want does not usually come to pass. So like him, we dust ourselves off, take a bath, oil our skin, eat and attempt to carry on as best as we can (2 Samuel 12:20). After all, the lord giveth and taketh (Job 1:21).
. . . .
And the more I thought about Nate in his wheelchair, the more I despaired. So I cried for my father; and for my brother; and for my cousin; and for Nate.
After a while I dried my tears and watched a young lady walk to her car. I thought to myself that since I am single, I was not doing anything wrong. But woe unto me, “for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. And if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:18-20). Because as a man of flesh and blood, it wasn’t just admiration of God’s handiwork that crossed my mind.
Jesus did not do any “there’s someone here …” miracles. We let our pastors get away with being no better than “life coaches”.
Jesus said we will do his works (including miracles) and much more (John 14:12). So, since no one is doing all His works, it begs the question “when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8).
Jesus was always specific. He did not send his disciples to catch 100 fishes, and maybe by chance there will be a coin in one of them. Instead, he said to take the very first fish they (the disciples) caught and it will contain a coin with which they should pay the tax man (Matthew 17:27). And when He sent his disciples ahead to go prepare a place to eat the Passover, He was specific about exactly what they will see – “a certain man” (Matthew 26:18) not “there is a (random) man in that city …” Even on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he told them specifically where to get the young donkey (Mark 11:2). He didn’t use the get-out-of-jail-free card “there’s an ass somewhere in that village that’s never been ridden …” which is equivalent to the “there is someone here …” modern-day preachers are known for.
Pastors preach fervently about everything in the Bible, and claim (rightly) they are to be taken literally (except the obvious parables) – pay tithe; obey the commandments; fast; but when it comes to healing, they are quick to say it is God who heals but ignore the fact that people like Peter and John were flesh like us, and yet they were able to pray and heal (Acts 3:4-8). Even Paul says if anyone is sick/ill, he should call the elders of the church to pray over him and he will be healed (James 5:14). I have even heard some preachers claim miracles were needed in the early days of the church to help in propagating the gospels, which is why they (miracles) are no longer commonplace now. I am yet to see a bible verse that backs up that position (on miracles).
If God can send Elijah (the prophet) to a specific widow (Luke 4:26), God can tell you (the pastor/preacher/etc.) particular names or attributes that’s peculiar to the person the miracle is intended for in your church or service. Otherwise, we are no better than those who conduct séances – after all, going by probability, same as there’s likely for someone present at a séance (session) to have a dearly departed named John (for example), in a church there’s likely to be someone that’s barren or someone that’s in dire financial straits. So should we say it is lack of true spiritual gift or spiritual laziness to throw out the generic all-encompassing “there is someone here …” message?
God knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) and not a bird drops out of the sky without His knowledge (Matthew 10:29). If He intends you to “deliver” a miracle to someone, He will be specific. He can tell you his/her name instead of having people guessing and hoping the “word” (miracle) is meant for them. If you are sure God is talking to you, then ask Him for specifics – so you can in turn say “Mr. XYZ, God said” or “the hunchback sitting 5 rows from the back of this hall, please step forward”. After all, if Elijah had turned up in Zarephath and announced God sent him to a widow without being specific, he would have either had a stampede on his hands, or alternatively, if not for their (widows) hunger/lack, they would likely have laughed him to scorn (1 King 17:9).
. . . .
The van has left. So I finally headed home too.