Friday, July 17, 2009

Insufficient Faith?

A dear friend, Josh Graham, passed away this week. His viewing is this evening, funeral tomorrow. He's a young man, with a young family. He'd been our Bishop for the past nine or so months. He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia just a week before being called to lead our Ward. His youngest daughter was born a few weeks later.

Another friend is struggling enormously with this; wondering if his faith had been sufficiently strong, might Josh have survived. I have not had the chance to speak with him on the matter, but here's what I'd suggest. Faith has little to do with what we want and everything to do with what we desire.

I guess it is easy to assume that having a desire to save Josh is a good thing and should be the focus of our faith. Most of us have seen this very thing occur. Someone got sick, the Ward fasted and prayed, exercised their faith and the person got better. Have we not noticed that in other cases someone got sick, the Ward fasted and prayed, exercised their faith and he died? Clearly, we don't like to consider cases like the latter. Who wouldn't prefer the former?

Trouble is we commonly don't understand faith, or fasting and prayer either. Our faith should be centered in God, not in Josh's recovery. True faith has little to do with the results and everything to do with the outcome. True faith is in God. I love a little quote from a church video called Finding Faith in Christ, "Faith is knowing that good will come of whatever happens to us."

When we learn to have that kind of faith we can have the kind of experience in life that will exalt us. When we entered into the arrangement that allowed for our mortal experience here on earth we had that kind of faith. In the premortal life we knew the terms and conditions of mortality. We knew it would be fraught with risk. Risk of pain, suffering, loss and sorrow, magnificent experience and incredible, unimaginable joy. We accepted that risk because we trusted God and had complete faith in His Son.

There is nothing wrong with pleading for Josh's life. But faith has to be centered in God's will, trusting Him, entirely, to do what He sees fit. There is no shame in disappointment that God saw fit to take, rather than heal Josh. No shame in sorrow for his passing. No recriminations for mourning this very tragic, heart breaking loss. But faith is manifest in trusting in God and his purposes and not in beating ourselves up because our faith or our fasting wasn't sufficient to twist God's arm in our favor. Fasting is designed to humble us and help us to submit willingly and freely to God's will. Fasting was not designed as a means to manipulate God into doing our will. Sacrifice is not a payment in exchange for a blessing, it is an offering of willingness to be obedient and submissive to the divine will of One wiser than we, who is entirely intent on what is perfectly best for us.

How is it that in the true church, so many of us have such misbegotten notions that we think we can have enough faith so as to force God's hand? Do we not understand God any better than that? How is it that so many of us spend our prayers directing God around the heavens and universe, rather than taking direction from Him? Why can't we see that God is the center of the Universe, not ourselves. I know these notions exist because I've had them myself! How is it?

When God declares in Moses 1:39 "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." He isn't kidding! Faith is accepting Him for His word. God has none other objective in Josh's life than to bring to pass his immortality and eternal life. Josh's death was not a set back, but a step forward in that process. God has the same thing in mind for Toni and the kids too! Exaltation is all He has in mind for them, all. Faith is knowing that, through and through.

Judging our Faith by results is horrendous! There is in this world, among God's people, sufficient faith to move mountains. Perhaps we should include Mountain Moving as an Olympic event! We could keep records and statistics and really have a time of it. Preposterous!

Faith reveals itself in outcomes. In quiet lives that go on in the face of tragedy, knowing that a loving Father in Heaven is at the helm, will do what's best and see us, all, through. We started this life hopeful of a divine outcome, insisting on anything short of that is just settling for comfortable, short-term results.

2 comments:

Love Life and Learning said...

Perfect! Never said better. Thank you Myke

Love, Wendy

Candleman said...

Thank you Wendy. I think you have such faith.

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