“I asked God for a sign and He didn’t give it”.
I have heard this more than once in the years I have been a believer in Jesus Christ. Someone desperate to believe in manifestations has put God to the test, and in their eyes, God has failed. Christians are the only ones I know of who put their God to the test in this way, so I took the time to give this some thought.
What miracles have other so-called gods performed on the behalf of those who follow them? What motivated the performance? All other religions outside of Christianity place the burden of redemption squarely on the shoulders of their followers. It is up to the follower to perform, and heaven help them if they don’t – it’s not a happy ending! Their motivation is not out of love, but out of fear. Performance by them must be perfect, or else whatever miracle they are hoping for will not be granted, and that includes salvation in any form.
The problem with that is, no one is perfect! I don’t care who sets the standard, we all fail. We all fall short. So in the eyes of other gods, we’re all doomed to come back as a bug only to be squashed, or worse, not come back at all!
But for the Christian it is different. Believers understand that Jesus the Messiah lived a perfect life and gave Himself as a sacrifice for all of us – because He knows we fail the standard, He knows we can never attain perfection on our own. And yet, so many of us raised in western cultures who have this basic understanding of Christ, demand more of the Living God than the life He has already given. We demand blessing, and we demand it our own way and in our own timing!
If we were honest, all one need do is to look around, take note, pay attention. Our God performs miracles all over the world on a daily basis. Again and again He proves who He is, that He in fact is alive, that He is good, that He is full of mercy, and that He loves. It is us who have the privilege of loving Him in return – not just for all He does, but for who He truly IS.
So why is it that we tend to give up on Him so easily whenever He does not perform on our behalf? People would rather have a sign from God than a word from God, but why? Because, frankly, hearing from Him involves cultivating relationship, and that just takes too much effort. We have been conditioned in our comforts not to seek His face, only His blessing. We see Him blessing others, why not us?
Yet scripture clearly tells us that in this life we will have trouble (John 16:33). It clearly states that the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). It clearly tells us again and again that we will be persecuted and we will endure hardship, and it gives example after example of those who, by faith, overcome their sorrows and troubles in triumph. And yet, just like the twelve disciples whom Jesus told more than once that He was going to be crucified, we are all in shock disbelief when it happens. Like the parable of the seeds in Matthew 13, we often fall away as a result.
20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21
What is the secret of those who do not fall away? In this life, it is not about what our eyes see. It is about having faith in what our eyes cannot see, regardless of our circumstances. It is not about what we feel, but rather about what we believe, what we know to be true – not only from scripture but also because the Holy Spirit testifies to us of this and we have seen it be true in the lives of others. It is not about what our hands can touch as much as it is who is touching our hearts. As a redeemed child of God, it is the knowing that I will indeed face chaos and hardship, but that I have been grafted into the family of the living, breathing God – the creator of this universe and everything in it. My God loves to have fellowship with me. My God speaks to me. He is as real to me as you are, and I am never alone. This I know! And in all my sorrows, He is there to show me that what I see with my physical eyes is not all there is to life. Any fear I might have is not because I fall short, but because I don’t want to live this life without Him. He does not owe me anything. I serve Him not because of what He gives me in return, but because He is the One True God. There is no other! Everything else I receive in life is just icing on the cake!
A.W. Tozer once said to have found God and yet still seek Him is the soul’s paradox of love.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:7-11
Don’t give up! Press in!