Oftentimes, we see Christians living in denial as they struggle to display “faith” in God in the midst of adversity and calamity. These believers have been taught to deny reality and confess “positively” always, as a demonstration of faith in God. The mere acknowledgement of their situation is deemed a lack of faith. Thus, when such people are sick and you ask them how they’re feeling, they tell you they’re fine or they’re “strong”, even when they’re terribly down and need urgent help! When they’re broke, they tell you they’re “rich”, even while coming to borrow money from you! They deny and refuse to accept medical diagnoses as not being their “portion”, and most of them refuse the treatments offered thereafter, while clinging to their “faith”. Is faith a denial of reality? Does the acknowledgement of a difficult and challenging situation amount to a lack of faith? Can faith coexist with the acknowledgement of reality? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.
Scripture teaches us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It is believing God’s report and his promises of supernatural intervention and victory for those that trust in him. Biblical faith is having full confidence in God’s word and in his ability to make good his promises. When a believer is confronted with a problem that’s beyond his natural abilities to resolve, he has the promise of God to expect divine help in time of need. Taking God at his word in expecting supernatural help in the midst of trouble is called faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (NKJV).
The starting point for faith is the acceptance of one’s inability to deal with the reality of the challenges one is confronted with. Faith begins where situations and circumstances overwhelm our natural abilities. For faith to be called into action, the challenge must be acknowledged as something that’s beyond one’s natural abilities to handle. Faith is therefore not a denial of the problem at hand, but its acknowledgement as being beyond our capability and thus needing supernatural intervention. A few biblical examples of faith at work will buttress this point.
King Hezekiah of Judah was a man who feared God and walked in his ways closely, following in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. One day, he was threatened by invasion from the powerful Assyrians who had subdued all the surrounding kingdoms and now had Judah in their sight. The King of Assyria sent a warning letter to Hezekiah to surrender peacefully and not allow himself and his kingdom to be invaded, for the consequences would be grave. Hezekiah immediately recognised the magnitude of the danger at hand. Truly, the Assyrians had a formidable army, and soldier-for-soldier, Israel could not stand the might of Assyria. Hezekiah did not deny the problem at hand, but honestly acknowledged it. He rightfully assessed the magnitude of the problem as being beyond the ability of his military to cope with. This realisation triggered and activated his faith and led him to cry unto God for help. In his frank and honest heart-to-heart discussion with God, Hezekiah revealed the magnitude of the problem at hand, acknowledged the might of the enemy, but also recognised heaven’s omnipotence as being far and above the enemy’s power, if God would undertake for him. By recognising the problem and God’s power to resolve it in his favour, Hezekiah showed how true faith works! Faith is linking God and our problems and getting out of the way for God to work on our behalf and grant us the promised victory!
2 Kings 19:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.
2 Kings 19:15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
2 Kings 19:16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.
2 Kings 19:17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,
2 Kings 19:18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them.
2 Kings 19:19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”
2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’
2 Kings 19:21 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him:
‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!
2 Kings 19:22 ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
And lifted up your eyes on high?
Against the Holy One of Israel.
2 Kings 19:23 By your messengers you have reproached the Lord,
And said: “By the multitude of my chariots
I have come up to the height of the mountains,
To the limits of Lebanon;
I will cut down its tall cedars
And its choice cypress trees;
I will enter the extremity of its borders,
To its fruitful forest.
2 Kings 19:24 I have dug and drunk strange water,
And with the soles of my feet I have dried up
All the brooks of defense.”
2 Kings 19:25 ‘Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.
2 Kings 19:26 Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.
2 Kings 19:27 ‘But I know your dwelling place,
Your going out and your coming in,
And your rage against Me.
2 Kings 19:28 Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came.
2 Kings 19:32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.
2 Kings 19:33 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.
2 Kings 19:34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”
2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.
2 Kings 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.
2 Kings 19:37 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place (NKJV).
Paul, the Apostle of faith, had a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to torment him. He didn’t deny the existence of this thorn in his flesh. He didn’t deny the pain and torment he felt. Rather, Paul acknowledged the presence of his distressing situation and cried out for divine help. In the process, God made Paul realise that his grace rests upon us only as we acknowledge our weaknesses, not as we deny our problems or their existence. The Apostle Paul thereafter resolved to always boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of God would rest upon him always!
2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know —God knows.
2 Corinthians 12:3 And I know that this man —whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows —
2 Corinthians 12:4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
2 Corinthians 12:5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,
2 Corinthians 12:7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NIV).
When one is sick or has suffered a misfortune, faith is not denying the existence of the sickness or the misfortune. That is denialism, not faith! True faith is acknowledging the problem and then going beyond that to cry for God’s promised intervention! Each time the prayer of a saint reaches God, he asks what we’d have him do on our behalf. Blind Bartimeus acknowledged his blindness and wanted his sight back. Hannah recognised her barrenness and asked God for a son. David, in the multitude of his psalms, recognised the powerful forces of the enemies arraigned against him (Saul, Absalom, etc), and cried to God for deliverance. God heard and delivered him out of all his troubles.
Psalms 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Psalms 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (NKJV).
There was a time Jesus healed a man who was blind. After touching the eyes of the blind man, the Lord asked him to describe how he could now see things. He responded by saying he could see people walking as trees! That was a sincere declaration because that was how he could see things! Jesus knew the man’s healing wasn’t perfect yet, and had to touch his eyes a second time, leading to a perfect restoration of his sight. By admitting to Jesus what he could actually see (his reality) rather than what he was expected to see, the imperfectly healed blind man had an opportunity for a second and perfect healing! Imagine if he had denied reality by telling Jesus he could see perfectly after the first touch! He probably would have gone on in his “faith” seeing men as trees! But, by acknowledging his reality and confessing how things were with him, this man got perfect healing!
St. Mark 8:22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
St. Mark 8:23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
St. Mark 8:24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
St. Mark 8:25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly (NIV).
Child of God, don’t let anyone make you look faithless for acknowledging your reality. If you have been prayed for over an illness and you don’t feel better, don’t try to please anyone by falsely saying you’re better. That’s not a declaration of faith but a denial of reality. God does not expect us to confess the opposite of what’s happening to us just to please him or anyone. Our demonstration of faith is in taking our problems to God in prayers, and in presenting ourselves before God’s anointed servants for deliverance, healing, etc. That we come before God or his anointed servants believing he’s able to make us whole is our display of faith. We have played our part. When God heals us, we’re supposed to mend and get well, and when we’re well, we’ll feel well!
When a demon-possessed person was brought to the Apostles of Christ and was neither delivered nor healed, Jesus didn’t blame the sick person for lacking faith. He didn’t expect the sick person to go away confessing he was healed when he wasn’t. That would be denying reality. Instead, the Lord blamed the Apostles for their lack of faith in not healing the boy! If the Apostles had the power and faith to heal the boy, the boy should have been healed, having had enough faith to present himself before servants of God for healing! Don’t die in silence confessing you’re well when you’re not! If you were healed you would become well and you would feel well! There’s no one in the Bible that was healed miraculously that didn’t become well immediately thereafter! God’s healing power is real! He doesn’t need us faking we’ve been healed when we’re not! It’s bearing false witness to God’s omnipotence to claim healing and wellness when your body is still riddled with disease and its evidence! True divine healing shows, and is evident for all to see! It doesn’t need to be assisted by false declaration of wellness in positive confessions when healing has not taken place!
Matthew 17:14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
Matthew 17:15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
Matthew 17:16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
Matthew 17:20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (NKJV).
In summary, faith is trusting God to intervene in our circumstances for good. It is having confidence that God is able and willing to do unto us as he has promised. Our act of faith is to present ourselves and our problems before God, and beseech him unceasingly to intervene. When God does intervene (either directly or through his anointed servants), our situations will definitely change! However, we should not confess we’re well when we’re not yet well. We should not deny our reality before our change comes. It’s okay to tell God exactly how we feel. We confess our reality before God, not our expectations. Faith holds unto God until change comes. Like blind Bartimeus, our cry for help should be louder and louder until Jesus stops and asks what we would have him do. Don’t therefore let anyone tell you to confess you’re well when you’re not. When God heals you and you’re well, you will be well indeed and won’t need to make false declarations of wellness! Making false declarations of wellness when you’re not well is fake, not faith! Don’t bear false witness against God’s omnipotence by claiming what he hasn’t done yet. Keep believing and keep trusting until he does it. Only then can the weak truly say he’s strong! Faith is not delusional; it is evidencial and substantial!
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (AKJV).