“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” -Matthew 7:9-11
This hit me today because lately I have been pondering what faith means (again). I’ve been listening to a lot of atheists debating Christians and it always seems that debate can go on for eternity. Both sides always have very intelligent people on either side yet no one seems to ever be able to convert the other side or actually really even make the other side stop and think at least. I really am beginning to think the whole thing (debating, not apologetics because those have other uses for the Christian) is a fool’s errand. Why? Because it seems the debaters are always missing the fact that both parties always start out with presuppositions. Also, it seems both sides are demanding proof for the other’s worldview, something I am really learning isn’t possible. Not because one or the other isn’t true, but because our origins are something in the distant past and therefore cannot be tested using the scientific method. I don’t know how an atheist grapples honestly with that other than finding that the little left-over evidences in the fossil record are enough proof for him of evolution (and therefore that all of nature and the universe has brought itself about.)
For the Christian, I wonder why God has designed our relationship with him to rely on faith? I get that God, being our Creator, and therefore Heavenly Father, wants a relationship with us, but why can’t He be as apparent to me as my wife, my parents or my brother? I have pondered this as far back as my college days and in that time my conclusion was largely about love being choice. It was something like this: If God showed Himself, we would no longer have a choice to believe in Him and therefore love would be impossible; we must see His revelation of Himself and then choose to love Him. But that still left me a little uneasy about the whole thing hinging on faith.
Lately though, some things in life have illustrated clearly to me what faith means in a relationship. Namely, being married has shown me that, when my wife demonstrates trust in me – a deep and real trust – there are few things that make me feel as deeply loved. Its as if she is saying to me “Josh, I don’t need to double check what you said or try to find out what you told me again on my own and this is because I know and trust your character.” AH! It’s like a light goes off in my head. When you apply this to that relationship with the Heavenly Father, I can picture Him saying “Know Me and then Trust Me because of who you know me to be.” After all of this cogitating I then come upon a verse I have read dozens and dozens of times through life and finally it hits home. Why don’t we ever realize that our prayers, even as good sounding as “Please help baby Jonas recover from his stage IV cancer” may be the same as “God, please give me a Lamborghini”? When baby Jonas then passes away at 6 months we think “Why God?!” or “There can be no God or any good God if this happens”.
“But God, surely to ask for baby Jonas to live, that is good gift, right?” we ask Him.
“You know Me, right? I will give you what is good,” comes His answer.
And He just reiterates what He told us 2000 years ago: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
“But God, baby Jonas died. That is a stone, when I asked for bread.”
“Is it? If YOU would never give someone a snake when He asked for fish, and you believe I am your Heavenly Father, then don’t you think I have something better?”
We need to trust in Who we know God to be and in His character. We need to have faith that He has something far bigger, more appropriate, more fulfilling and good than baby Jonas’ physical, earthly healing.