Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lord, Help Me Overcome My Unbelief

In Mark chapter 9, a demonic spirit had been torturing a man's son since childhood. The man had tried everything to help his son and was hoping that Jesus WAS the Messiah and that He could do what no one else could do. The man said "... if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe”… pause… Jesus gives him that “knowing” look… then “help me overcome my unbelief!"

Like the man with the demon possessed son, of course I believe in God and that Jesus is His Son. I also believe that He CAN do absolutely anything. I know He is ABLE but is He WILLING?

Sometimes I feel like miracles are for “other people,” and I wonder if God has one for me. I wonder if I have too much sin for Him to care about my requests. While my head knows that He loves me, my heart feels like He’s forgotten me. This gets me all confused about what He says in His Word. For instance, how are we supposed to pray over and over again, pleading with God to give us another baby in the name of Jesus and NOT doubt that He will come through for us? We all know of times when we have prayed for a miracle or a healing and God’s answer was “no”. Even Paul, the greatest missionary in history, prayed that God would remove his physical pain, and His answer was "no". Sometimes His sovereign answer is "no". And yet, we are commanded to ask and believe that we have received... BUT, GOD, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT! HELP ME OVERCOME MY UNBELIEF!

And He did… after months of praying with so much doubt and unbelief, He has helped me believe Him. I’m sure that I still have a lot to learn, but I am finally feeling freedom from the stronghold of unbelief. He is so faithful.

This is how He led me…  

I don't know about y'all, but I am surrounded by His Word... I have my quiet time in the morning with my Bible, I have Bible and devotion apps on my phone, I subscribe to several faith-based blogs, I'm always reading Bible based books, I follow Christian figures on Facebook and Instagram, several of my friends share verses on Facebook or send me texts, and I attend church. Aren't I such a good girl? Just kidding... my point is that when you are this submersed in His Word, you are opened up to the opportunity for God to speak to you in "themes" (and countless other ways). And for WEEKS I saw verse after verse, devotion after devotion, and sermon after sermon on the topic of unbelief. It was a bit ridiculous. OK, God, I get it. I receive the confirmation that I have a problem with unbelief, thank you for trying to help, but none of this is helping me overcome this stronghold of unbelief. My faith still feels crippled. What now? 

It's a good thing He knows me so well because He led me to a book (my main love language ;)) that has helped in a BIG way. I love that He knows EXACTLY what I need and how I need things explained so that I fully understand. You guys! If the doubts and questions that I mentioned above sound anything like the chatter that goes on in your head too, you MUST READ Believing God by Beth Moore immediately. This is my first Beth Moore experience. That woman has a GIFT for teaching. In just the first 80 pages or so, I felt like my unbelief was gone, and I feel like I have received the keys to the kingdom! My faith and trust in the Almighty has been restored and the best part is that it was an answer to my prayer… you know, the ones I felt like He wasn’t even hearing. His mercy is astounding.

Because I am confident that others struggling with infertility might feel the way I was feeling with unbelief, I wanted to share a few excerpts from this book that might also speak to you: 

1.    In the Gospels, Christ called those without faith to believe in miracles an "unbelieving and perverse generation" (Luke 9:41). On the other hand, He called those who focused entirely on miracles a "wicked and adulterous generation" (Matt. 16:4). Either extreme can be wildly offensive to God. The reason Christ could dub miracle cravers as adulterous is because they worshipped God's wonders more than God Himself. Equally idolatrous, sensationalism suggests we can believe God as long as He does what we tell Him to do, as if we were the potter and God the clay. (page 60) 

We may not get exactly what we are asking for every time. I may not get a baby from this final IUI. Maybe IVF is God’s plan to give me the miracle I’ve been asking for. Maybe it’s not and He has a miracle baby planned for me next year or when I finally give up on trying or maybe His miracle is adopting a baby from China. But how can I not believe Him just because His plan (to prosper me, by the way) looks different than my prayer? Who am I to tell the God of the Universe what kind of miracles He can do to win my belief? For me, something clicked when I read that last part. I don’t want to be the child who stops trusting her Father just because she’s not getting exactly what she wants when she wants it.

2.    Beloved, no one, no matter how brilliant, persuasive, or credentialed, should have the right to take away our hope. The God we serve is able (Dan 3:17). Everything is possible (Mark 9:23). Nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). We can always hope and pray diligently for a miracle. If, in God's sovereignty, He chooses to accomplish His purposes another way, let it not be that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2) or that we have not because we believed not (Matt. 9:29). Second Corinthians 1:20 tells us that "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ." Christ gave His life so God could say yes to the fulfillment of His promises in the lives of believing mortals. Therefore, I am utterly convinced that any NO an earnestly seeking child of God receives from the Throne is for the sake of a greater yes, whether realized on earth or in heaven. (Page 61)

Christ gave His life so God could say YES.  God WANTS to say yes. The very first words that God ever says in the Bible are “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” His plan is to build His kingdom of believers; to bless His children with offspring. If, in the rare case that His answer is “no” I am now more confident than ever that it is not because God forgot about me, or I haven’t been “good” enough to receive a miracle, or He’s not in the mood (yes, that one has crossed my mind), or that I’m not significant enough, or that I’m low on His list of priorities… it’s because He has a purpose and a plan that is far better than anything we could fathom. When I pray for all of you who are going through infertility, one of the things I ask for is that if His answer is “no” for any of you (and myself) that He would strengthen you and guide you to the “greater yes” that He has planned for you. That He would heal your broken hearts so that you would be open to the miracle He had in mind all along. The plan that will prosper you, not harm you.

3.    Beth Moore also says:

If I'm convinced that God really loves me and has certain priorities for me that may take precedence at times, then I am "safe" to walk by faith. I am freed to know that my God is huge and my God is able and that if I don't get what I asked, if I'll cooperate, I'll get something bigger. I'm going to believe Him to do anything His Word says He can, then if He chooses not to, I don't have to assume...

·       He doesn't like me

·       He doesn't answer my prayers like He does others'

·       He hardly knows I'm alive

·       He can't do it

·       He's never willing to do it

·       I didn't have enough faith

·       I wavered for a split second

·       I have that sin in my past

·       I'm a failure

·       I've made a fool of myself

Instead, I get to know that a greater yes is in progress, and I can count on the bigger miracle. We are safe with God. We are safe to believe Him for miracles. (page 80-81)

Can I get an AMEN?! I am positive that I’m not the only one who has assumed at least one of the above when I received my monthly BFN. I am so comforted to know that that momentary “no” not only means “not yet”, but it means “I have something even better!” Now THAT is something I can ask for and believe that I have received without any doubt.
To summarize another of Beth's points in Believing God: she discusses how the "old" covenant from the Old Testament was based on big signs and wonders (burning bush, splitting the sea, manna in the desert, etc) and the Word written on tablets, but after the resurrection in the New Testament (new covenant), the miracles and wonders (even better than burning bushes) are done in and through each of us by the Holy Spirit as the Word is now written on our hearts. Not that He doesn't still perform miracles and wonders for us, it's just that His priority is the miraculous work that He does in our spirit. 

I KNOW I’m not alone when I tell you that I have like a hundred scenarios in my head of how God might deliver my miracle. Like, maybe He will give me a baby the cycle before we plan to do IVF, or maybe it will be THIS month so that I would be due on my birthday, or maybe He’s going to give us TWINS, or maybe I’ll get my BFP on Christmas morning- what a great gift to give my family on Christmas! Sound familiar? Throughout this journey, I’ve always been looking for the external miracle. As long as we continue to worship God, not the impending miracle, I don’t see anything wrong with looking for ways to give Him glory. The world is full of beautiful stories where a family was blessed with a baby at the “perfect time” or in the “nick of time”. I love those stories. But God loves us. His priority is His relationship with us. And He cares a lot more about the work He is doing in us through infertility than about our version of the perfect time to bless us with a baby.

With IVF being a very real possibility for us in the near future, I have been praying about it a lot. The whole thing is terrifying. The cost, all the decisions, all the appointments, the crazy hormones, the NEEDLES! I will need the strength and the courage and the joy of the Lord more than ever. I will likely experience a dependence on Him that I never have before. And you know what? I kind of like the idea of relying on Him completely. I like the idea of walking so closely with Him. And maybe that’s the reason why IVF was part of the plan all along? I have no idea, but I’m letting go of my idea of the miracle and trusting Him for the “greater yes”.

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for not always recognizing the miracles that you perform in me. Forgive me for trying to be the potter and You the clay. Thank you for the assurance that there is purpose in my pain and that however you choose to answer my prayers is for the "greater yes" in Christ. Thank you for helping me overcome my unbelief. Thank you for freeing me from my version of what Your miracle should look like and giving me the freedom to see what Your version of a miracle looks like. Thank you that you prioritize Your work in me over performing signs and wonders. I trust You. I love You. Amen!


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