How can we strengthen our faith in troubled times when we sometimes have a difficult time under normal conditions? Sometimes we feel a sense of being overwhelmed when things start coming at us from all directions. When pressures increase, we often find that our faith starts to waver. Is it possible to strengthen our faith in troubled times? Is it possible to have strong, unwavering faith? Let’s look at two examples of faith and belief in action.
We find Jesus in Matthew chapter eight returning from the mountains:
1 When He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2 Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Right away we see the man’s trust, his belief, and his faith in Christ being the healer. Notice he did not demand or throw his arms up in a dramatic fashion for the entire world to see. This man, this leper demonstrates three things that everyone should do when calling upon Jesus. First, he kneels to Christ showing his humility to Jesus. We as Christians are to emulate Christ; therefore we take up the humility shield if you will. The second thing he shows us is his request to Christ that demonstrates that it is His not our, but His will that will be done. Remember that before the crucifixion occurred, Christ prayed too that not His own will, but rather God the Father’s will be done.
3 Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed.[a] 4 Then Jesus told him, “See that you don’t tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to them.”
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus ever refuse to heal someone. The man, the leper, acknowledged Who Jesus is, humbled himself before Jesus, and then thirdly, accepted the gift of healing from the King of kings.
Jesus tells him to go to the priests and so forth because frankly most commentators explain that His time to reveal had not yet occurred. I understand. So, from a leper, a man most ran from, were terrified of, we see how we are and need to approach Christ. Now there is another that approached Christ that was not a despised man, but a respected military veteran so to speak.
When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!”
7 “I will come and heal him,” He told him.
8 “Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. 9 For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command.[b] I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
10 Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! 11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment.
On his way into Capernaum Jesus encountered a Roman centurion. A centurion meant that he was a career military person who was in charge of 100 men. Centurions were the military backbone throughout the empire maintaining discipline and executing orders. He understood the Roman military system where all authority was delegated. When he spoke to his men, he spoke with the emperor’s authority and so his command was obeyed without question. A soldier who defied him would not just be defying a centurion but the emperor himself.
He was a God-fearing man although he was a Gentile, an outsider. He lacked the background of Old Testament revelation that the Jews had in order to help him understand Jesus. Although this man might have had some gaps in the Old Testament heritage concerning Jesus, yet it was the knowledge he had concerning authority in his career that applied to Jesus and which was a big key to strengthening his faith during a time of great need.
In his thinking Jesus was under God’s authority and when He spoke--God is speaking. To defy Jesus was to defy God.
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day after a busy morning chasing votes and (no lunch) he arrived at a church barbeque. It was late afternoon and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.
“Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken.”
“Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.”
“But I’m starved” the governor said.
“Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.”
Governor Herter was an unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw his weight around a little.
“Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.”
“Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along mister!”
The centurion knew that Jesus had a whole lot more authority than that. He had authority over sickness and suffering, and the centurion was very concerned about his servant who was at the point of death. He had a genuine concern for his man. In the Matthew account, he spoke to Jesus calling him, “Lord” which was a sign of his belief in Jesus’ deity. He says, “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” He defined the need clearly to Jesus. It was not vague and generalized. In the Message Bible he says, “Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk. He’s in terrible pain.” He stuck to his point when making his request.
In Luke 7 we have more information about this servant--he was highly valued by the centurion and he was sick and near death (vs. 2). The Luke account tells us that the centurion sent some highly respected Jewish leaders on ahead to ask Jesus to come and heal this servant. They spoke highly of this Roman centurion. They said, “if anyone deserves your help, it’s this man. He loves the Jews and even built a synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them.
When the need was presented clearly to Jesus, He answered the man, “I will go and heal him.” It was no big problem to Jesus. He says, “Sure, I will come and take care of the problem.”
At this point the man says, “Oh, no, I don’t want you to go to all that trouble. I’m not worthy for you to enter my house. But just say the Word from where you are. He is not backpedaling here. He is saying, I have so much confidence in you that I know that if you just say the word, it will be done. I too am a person under authority. I say go here or go there or do this or do that and it is taken care of. He didn’t need to see Jesus come to his home or lay his hands on the sick servant. He said to Jesus--”Lord, just SAY THE WORD.”
How many of us pray, yet we do not believe that the Father, Son, and Spirit hear our needs and desires? Granted, He knows them, but the act of prayer is more than lip service to make ourselves feel better, folks. God wants to hear from us. Just say the word above I believe can be understood as an answered prayer.
When G. Campbell Morgan was a young Christian he used to visit several elderly ladies once a week to read the Bible to them. When he came to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Morgan read, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." He added, "Isn’t that a wonderful promise?" One of the ladies quickly replied, "Young man, that is not a promise. It is a fact!" Warren W. Wiersbe, MEET YOUR The centurion said, “Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” That’s a fact.
In what way do you picture the authority of Jesus when it comes to answering your prayers? If we could see this clearly, it would strengthen our faith tremendously. What does scripture tell us about His authority?
STORY: Believing things ’on authority’ only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority. A person who balked at authority in other things, as some people do in religion, would have to be content to know nothing all his life.
Matthew 7:29 says that “Jesus taught as one who HAD authority.”
Matthew 9:6 says, “the Son of man HAS authority on earth.”
Matthew 28:18 says, “ALL authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”
If he has all authority, then wouldn’t he be able to take care of your problem?
The centurion’s word was law to his soldiers. His faith in the power of Christ to heal was illustrated by the dominion he had as a centurion over his soldiers. His faith in the word that Jesus spoke was certain. Because he knew all about the power of authority--he recognized Jesus’ power and authority over disease. Jeremiah 23:23 says, “Am I only a God nearby? and not a God far away?” This shows both the immanence and the transcendence of God. When we pray for people at a distance, know that God hears that prayer just as if you were right with the person.
Are we a people that, as the leper did, humble ourselves to God Almighty, acknowledging His will first? Are like the Centurion that despite the earthly prestige we hold, hold Christ most high above all others? Do we possess a faith that believes that the very words of Christ will make it so? Do we possess the faith that is real and lasts?