I was praying the other day, laying out my requests before the Lord. I was telling him of the difficult situations and seemingly insurmountable obstacles facing me and those I care about. And then I found myself wondering how God could ever work out His good purposes in these tough instances. I was thinking things are hopeless, essentially doubting God. Have you ever found yourself there, even while you are praying? I asked the Lord to help me in my unbelief, which is what the father in Mark 9 did when he was doubting whether Jesus could help his demon-possessed son.
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When we are facing these thoughts, we need to speak truth to ourselves. God is all-powerful and always good. He loves us and is working all things for our good and His glory if we are His beloved children (Romans 8:28).
Here’s an example of God’s great power and kindness from the story of Hezekiah King of Israel, found in Isaiah 38:1-8.
Hezekiah was a good king and faithfully followed the Lord. In the previous chapter, God delivered the nation miraculously from an attacking army. But in Isaiah 38, Hezekiah fell seriously ill and the prophet told him he would not recover. Hezekiah wept and pleaded with God, and the Lord answered. He graciously granted an additional fifteen years of life to the king. God also promised Hezekiah that Israel would be protected from their enemies and offered a sign of his promise: the shadow of the sun moved backwards!
Three points to consider from this story:
- God is the sovereign ruler of the earth and sun and indeed, the entire universe. How else can we explain that the sun’s shadow moved backwards? That means the earth spun the wrong way, right? Or maybe He made it happen some other way, but He is in absolute control of nature. If you’ve ever experienced a natural disaster or even just a violent thunderstorm, you know that there is enormous power contained therein. Our God is stronger, mightier, more potent than even the most terrifying weather event.
- God is intimately acquainted with our physical bodies and controls every molecule. He afflicts and heals for His own good purposes. He responded in mercy to Hezekiah’s plea and healed him. Other times He may choose not to heal physically, but we should still ask Him to display His power over our bodies. I love the story where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14-15. She was sick with a fever and Jesus healed her. Then she immediately got up and began to serve them. Notice that it says “immediately.” Have you ever had the flu? I have, and I’ve never been able to do anything immediately afterwards. We don’t usually return to full strength for several days after a fever, so this makes Jesus’ healing even more remarkable.
- The Lord directs nations and rulers and kings. Proverbs 21:1 tells us “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” In Exodus we read that God hardened Pharaohs’ heart repeatedly so that he was unwilling to let the Israelites go. God promised Hezekiah that the nation of Assyria would not prevail against them. Later we read where God did allow other nations to defeat Israel to punish them for their sin. Be assured that God directs the hearts of kings and bosses and government officials or anyone else who may be in authority over you!
When you are tempted to doubt God or struggling with unbelief, remember this story and that God is sovereignly in control of 1. nature, 2. our bodies and 3. the hearts of men. What could He possibly not do?