If trusting God is a matter of choice, why is it that some of us find it such a difficult choice to make? Sure, we pray and do the things we are supposed to do, but as one of my former pastors once said, “Just because we’re in a position of prayer, doesn’t mean we’re in a position of faith.” That was 16 years ago and it still rings true today. Just because we pray does not mean there is the required God-pleasing kind of faith behind our prayers. This means we are in a difficult spot because as the writer to the Hebrews reminded them then and every believer since, “Without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him” (Hebrews 11:6a, AMP). If we are not pleasing God, then it follows that we are displeasing Him and according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word displease means “to incur the disapproval or dislike of especially by annoying; to be offensive to.” In other words, to ask something of God without faith in His ability to do what we ask, assuming it is consistent with His will for our lives, is annoying and offensive to Him.
These thoughts and others came to mind as I reflected on an incident recorded by Matthew: “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying aloud, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David.’ When He entered the house, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you.’ And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:27-30a, ESV). The men had obviously heard about Jesus and the miracles He was doing which explained why they came to Him. They had called Him “Son of David” which implied faith in Him as the true Messiah of whom it was prophesied that He would “open the eyes of the blind” (Isaiah 35:5). Yet it is instructive that Jesus did not heal them just because they asked using the right formula or the right words. He instead asked them the question: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” This was a question that went past their words and tested the integrity of their hearts. Their faith was now on trial.
Why did Jesus ask such a question? The Hebrews writer sheds some light: “Whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6b, AMP). Bible scholar John Gill opines that “he must not barely believe His existence, but that . . . He is omniscient, and knows his person and wants; is omnipotent, and can do for him, beyond his thoughts and petitions.” When we come to God, we must believe that He exists, that He is who He says He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Why? Because to come without believing those truths is to come without faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God. In response to Jesus’ question, the men replied, “‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you.’ And their eyes were opened.” Four very important words – according to your faith. What if they had come without faith?
Mark tells us that on one occasion when Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath in Nazareth, those in the synagogue did not believe He was who He said He was (Mark 6:1-4). As a result, “He could not do a miracle there at all [because of their unbelief] except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. He wondered at their unbelief” (vv. 5-6a). Not only does the lack of faith displeases God but it also results in our failure to see Him move on our behalf. We settle for mercy drops, sent to us not because we believe but because of His grace, when He desires to pour out showers of blessings in all areas of our lives if we would only believe. The problem is never God’s ability to do the thing He says He can do, but rather our ability to believe Him that He can. American author and pastor Aiden Wilson (A.W.) Tozer was right when he said, “What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.” Our goal should never be one of displeasing God but rather to please Him, and we do so when we actively demonstrate our faith in Him. The next time you and I approach the throne of grace, let us remember who is seated on that throne. Is there anything too hard for Him?