“So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed, and his whole household.” John 4:53
Sometimes we receive a promise from God—something He has impressed on our hearts that He will do for us and in us and through us. But then the Lord lets circumstances go in a completely different direction from what we expected, and there we are, totally confused. Was that really the Lord, or did I just make that up? we wonder.
Jesus had just returned to Galilee from Judea. In the town of Cana, where He had turned water to wine, a nobleman from Capernaum came to Jesus. Capernaum was a fair distance from Cana, but this man had heard stories of the miracles Jesus had done, and he needed a miracle. He implored the Lord to come and heal his son who was sick. Jesus’ response to the nobleman was a bit of a rebuke: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe” (John 4:48).
Despite Jesus’ rebuke, the man begged Jesus to come with him. But Jesus didn’t exactly grant his request. He simply said, “Go your way; your son lives” (John 4:50). He required from this nobleman an element of faith. Jesus forced the man to take Him at His Word. And that’s exactly what the man did.
When the nobleman got home, he found things exactly as Jesus had said. Not only was his son healed, but he had become well at the very hour Jesus had told him that his son lived.
This man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him” (John 4:50). Our decision to believe or disbelieve what God has said will make all the difference in our lives. If we can’t believe what we read in the Bible, we will suffer greatly. The eventual outcome will be tragic, because without faith it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6).
God uses His Word to speak to us personally. When we remain confident in what He has told us, we find peace and security. The nobleman took Jesus at His Word, and I am certain that when he left Jesus, he left confidently. He trusted that Jesus’ Word was good and that it would be kept.
But sometimes, as we wait for God’s Word to be fulfilled, things don’t look as if they’re going so well. Everything seems black. “Lord, wait!” we say. “I thought You told me this.” We become frustrated and anxious. We might even try to accomplish things ourselves rather than wait for God to fulfill His promise, and doing so inevitably makes a mess of things. Of course, even when we have lapses of faith, God keeps His promises to us. But when we allow doubt to invade our thinking, we miss out on the confidence and rest and joy that we could have while we wait for God to fulfill His Word.
How Faith Develops
Why does God give us promises and then seem to back off and let things go haywire? He is testing our faith. God will let our circumstances go in every which direction until His promises seem impossible to fulfill. And then He’ll watch us. “Do you believe Me?” He says. “Didn’t I promise you?” God wants to develop character in our lives. He wants us to be people of faith.
There is an interesting contrast throughout the Scriptures between seeing and hearing. We see it in the book of Romans: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Yet we often think that faith comes by seeing. We ought to know better, because a lot of people in the Bible who saw serious miracles, like the parting of the Red Sea, didn’t believe. And the masses of people who saw Jesus’ miracles didn’t follow Him in the end.
The blessing is for those who hear and believe. That’s how faith develops.
Stand On God’s Promises
What has God promised you? Even if it seems impossible that it could ever be fulfilled or you wonder whether you heard God correctly—steady yourself. It’s certainly possible that we can get things wrong, but it’s also highly probable that you got it right. God has His time. He’s working out a plan. Trust His Word, and stand on His promises.