Is God Mad At Me When I Doubt?

So there’s this story in the bible I like a lot. It’s recorded in the book of Mark if you want to read it for yourself, but here’s the gist:

Jesus has been up on a mountain praying, away from the crowds that follow him everywhere. He comes down the mountain to find a chaotic scene.

A father who has a son with some serious issues has been asking Jesus’ disciples to heal the kid. The disciples have tried and failed.

The father brings the kid over to Jesus and I’m going to let what Mark wrote tell the next couple parts here:

(The Dad says to Jesus)  “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus then punched him in the gut and said, ‘Come back when you don’t have any more unbelief, chump.” Then he rolled out with his posse.

In case you aren’t sure, I made that last part up. What actually happens is that Jesus heals the kid who suffered by major seizures and gave him back to his dad.

The father in that story is one of my heroes and I don’t even know his name.

35@35 #12: Being Wounded

Broken_glassTC's Principles and Guidelines for Life #12: "Imperfect situations do not have perfect solutions." Sometimes, I wish I had magic prayer words. Or fairy dust. Or silver bullets.

I run into people on a fairly regular basis who find themselves in tough circumstances.

They have a loved one who is struggling with addiction; or their finances are a mess due to un/under employment; or they are struggling with serious illness.

And in those moments, I want to fix what's wrong.

I hate looking them in the eye and knowing that when our conversation ends and they walk away, that problem is still going to exist.

I offer genuine words of encouragement, I pray with them, I give advice if it's asked for, and I truly empathize.

But I can't fix it.

They are in pain, and I can't make them better.

Instead, I point to the one who is healer.

See stuff gets broken: cell phone screens, cars, furniture, etc.

But people don't get broken. They get wounded.

So we don't need a fixer. We need a healer.

That's one of the aspects of God - He is a healer.

Wounds will normally heal on their own. But if it's a big injury, it needs help to heal. A bone may need to be set. Stitches may be needed. Infection may need to be cut out.

Broken things stay broken if they aren't fixed. Wounded things may not heal properly if not treated.

So I spend most of my time in these conversations pointing to the healer. Offering scriptures and prayer that remind us to trust in God.

But it's the same thing as telling somebody to go to the doctor: I can't force them to go. They may decide not to.

And if they do go, there's no guarantee they will follow the prescription.

If a doctor tells you to take medicine, if you fail to go to the pharmacy, or fail to take the pills as instructed, you're not going to get the benefit.

Healing takes time. We have to follow the instructions of the healer in order to see the process occur, and we have to be patient.

Engage with the cure and give it time to work.

This is the formula for healing.

And if the first approach doesn't complete the process (not that God is wrong, but sometimes there may be more than one issue), we must be willing to return and submit to further instructions.

And cure is often painful. Have you ever read the side effects of medicine? It's nuts! For a temporary period of time, you're going to hurt yourself in order to get healthy.

This is why I say imperfect situations do not have perfect solutions. Because healing will involve pain.

Setting a broken bone is not fun, but it's incredibly important.

It's not a perfect solution, but it's the best one we've got.

Trusting ourselves to the care of a capable healer is essential to life.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

The Sinful Invalid

In John chapter 5, we read the story of a man who had been an invalid for 38 years (v. 5). Jesus approaches this man and heals him. Amid the commotion, Jesus slips away into the crowd. Later, after the man has been accosted by religious people that are upset with the fact he is carrying his mat (at Jesus’ direction), it says that Jesus came back and found him again.

And this is what Jesus says to him: “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (v. 14)



I’m so curious here about what Jesus is referring to. Did the man become an invalid through sinful action? Or is Jesus indicating his sinfulness while he was apparently unable to do more than lay next to a pool, hoping to be healed?

I have no idea. There’s simply no way to know for sure.

But the fact that Jesus tells him to ‘stop sinning’ tends to indicate (at least to me) an active continuance as opposed to something that happened long in the past.

But without the physical ability to do much more than talk and lay around, it seems that any sin he was committing was internal.

Was the man full of bitter and anger over his condition?  Or perhaps lustful or greedy for what he could not have?

This hammered home to me a point I read in Psalms this week. In Psalm 24, David asks who is able to be in the Lord’s presence.  He then provides an answer to his own question in the next lines of the song:

“Only those whose hands and hearts are pure” (v. 4)

People who are pure, inside (heart) and ouside (hands). What we think/feel (heart) and what we do (hands).

We put a lot of emphasis on whether what we do is sinful. But honestly, I think our actions and words aren’t the issue. Those things come out of who we are.

We spend so much time trying to change our fruit, but we do it in silly ways. You can’t glue oranges on an apple tree and think that the tree has changed.

I think the work the Holy Spirit does within us is about planting new trees. God’s not after lip service. He’s not after us doing stuff to get points from him. He’s about us acting out of the resurrection life he is creating in us. Rather than attaching oranges to an apple tree, he’s taking the time to uproot the apple trees and plant orange trees in their place.

That process takes time. For the first few seasons, my orchard is still going to produce more apples than oranges. But as the work continues, as there are fewer apple trees and the orange trees mature, slowly but surely there will be evidence that this orchard creates oranges, rather than apples.

Just because the invalid may not have been able to act on his sinful nature doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. And Jesus was warning him, not as a threat, but in love. The man had just been given the ability to but action behind his desires. If his desires aren’t corrected, that only gives him the ability to head headlong into his own destruction.

What Jesus did seems dangerous to me. Why heal a guy that may end up being a real jerk?

Clearly, God’s respect for our free will is astounding. He gives chances that may be completely squandered. I make stupid, selfish, shortsighted choices all the time. I wish there was an easy way where I could turn off the part of me that wants to find spiritual shortcuts or loopholes. But instead, God insists that I should have the ability to frustrate or ignore or undo his work.

What an amazing God we serve. That he lets us co-author the story of our life to such a degree. A God that offers us new and abundant life, instead of mandating it.