In Mark 6 are found some of the most incredible words in Scripture. Jesus had been travelling from city to city preaching the good news and healing the sick in incredible ways. He had recently healed a paralytic, a man with leprosy, a woman with an incurable bleeding issue, and many, many more. It was happening everywhere He went. Then Jesus goes to his hometown, and it was pretty much a bust. “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”(Mark 6:5-6)
Those words are both enlightening and shocking. The Scripture says Jesus “could not do any miracles there.” It does not say, He decided not to do any at that time, or it was not God’s will to heal anyone right then; instead it says the Son of God “could not” do any. What, the Son of God “could not”? Why couldn’t He? The Bible clearly says He could not because of THEIR lack of faith. Earlier in this chapter, we talked about a man that amazed Jesus with his faith. Now we see Jesus amazed at their lack of it.
Even though God in the flesh was standing right before them and wanting to heal and help them, He could not because of their response. Did you realize God Almighty has given us the authority to open the door or barricade the door to Him in our lives? The Scripture does not say they did not receive from Jesus because they had too much sin in their lives or that they didn’t do enough good works or give enough money or love their families enough. The Bible says they could not receive what Jesus really desired to give because of their unbelief.
Is unbelief always the reason we don’t receive what we desire from God? No. Just like any wise and loving parent, God does not always give the kids what they ask for or when they ask for it. God can say “no” or “later.” He really does love us and knows what is best for us, while weaving it all together to run a universe. Furthermore, in far too many instances, the problem is not God’s unwillingness to answer with a blessing, it is the person’s heart response to Him that blocks His blessing. How many times have we read in Scripture God baring His heart to us with words like, “If you will just trust Me, cling to Me, and follow Me, I will pour My blessings upon you. I WANT to pour my life, love, and abundance into you!” (Entire book of Deuteronomy, the entire New Testament and more)
Faith Has Many Expressions
There is no doubt about it: faith is the main pipeline, the main means of transport God uses to move what He has to us. What is often misunderstood, however, is that faith has many, many expressions. This is very important to realize because using one or two faith expressions will not always bring results.
Praise is one of the most powerful expressions of Biblical faith. In my earlier years as a Christian, there were several best-sellers on the subject and many were teaching on the power of praising God. Let me encourage you, praise is powerful and should be used regularly as both a means of worship and a faith-building, oppression destroying weapon. In my own life, praising God has been one of the greatest faith builders and discouragement destroyers I’ve experienced but thinking that praise is the solution for every problem is not reality.
I used to battle low-grade depression on a very regular basis. It was not the type of depression that would leave me sitting in a dark room for days at a time, but the type that could make me feel hopeless and despondent for hours at a time. I had the ability to drain the life out of a situation and drag down people who were around me with very few words. You’ve been around people like that; without a word, sometimes, they lower the joy level in a room significantly if you don’t take internal steps to block it.
I learned that if I let the clouds of depression settle in on my mind, I would have a hard time getting out of that fog and darkness. It would take hours or, occasionally, even days – to feel normal again. However, if as soon as I recognized those feelings I started to praise God, then within minutes the cloud would either dissipate or I would have the ability to walk out of it. Even though it was emotionally difficult to praise God when I was feeling down, if I stuck with it for just a few tough minutes, I could get free of that darkness pretty quickly. This happened again and again, until one day it didn’t work. I felt the depression coming on, started to praise God expecting it to be defeated, but it didn’t go away. Even though I kept praising God as best I could, the depression still settled in on me.
Along with the depression came the “doubt” battle. Thoughts of, “What’s going on? Does God’s word really work? What do I do now?” came strong and heavy.
Ephesians 4:15 says God wants us to “grow up in all aspects” in Jesus. Part of that growth is learning about all of God’s tools, following God as a person (not just as a methodology), and persevering in faith. In this instance, God was showing me that although praise was a great and powerful tool, it was not the cure all for every situation. Jesus is the answer, not one particular tool, method, or faith-expression. In this case, God had me intercede for others even though I didn’t feel like it and as I prayed for others, the cloud of heaviness lifted. In this instance, and in many others, like Job when I sincerely prayed for others I was liberated.
Over the years, depression has steadily lost its influence in my life. Like everyone, I have times where feelings of sadness or hopelessness knock on the door of my soul or occasionally try to violently bash their way in but my overall joy level has steadily and significantly increased and I can usually get free from the despair pretty quickly.
The point is: God wants us to primarily have faith in Him, dependence on Him, and not on any one particular method or expression of faith alone. There are many, many ways that faith is expressed and all of them have their place. A carpenter does not just use a hammer and screwdriver to do his work, he uses all the necessary tools. Having the right tools and knowing how to use them is one of the things that separate a craftsman from a novice. God wants us to grow up, develop, and learn to use all the tools He has given us. All the tools or expressions of faith are always intended to work out a living relationship with Jesus, the author, developer, and finisher of our faith.
God’s kingdom operates on faith. By faith we are saved, please God, overcome the world, receive God’s promises, defeat the enemy, and live the abundant life. But it is faith in God, not how big our faith is, that does all these things. Even though Scripture is filled with principles, they work best out of relationship with Jesus. Jesus wants you grounded in truth, but not dependent upon one or two particular methods or expressions of faith. He wants you to grow up in all aspects, not just one or two, and that means it will not always follow the same pattern. If you will continue to deepen your relationship with Jesus, He will give you all the faith you need and the right way to express it so you can receive all He wants to give you each stage of your life.