A social media question via Facebook from Frieda recently got my attention. She wrote, “How do you answer people when they tell you, you are lacking faith? My brother is a paraplegic since he was three years old and has prayed all his life to walk. He knows he will walk one day with the Lord but people in the church feel it necessary to comment to him that he doesn’t have enough faith. It has caused him at times to question God on why he cannot get his healing but he does understand that God uses him because of his disability. So what should his answer be to these people?” So imagine this scene. You have a paraplegic in the church, and people are telling the paraplegic he doesn’t have enough faith because if he had enough faith he wouldn’t be a paraplegic.
If you look at the reasoning that is used, you hear the echoes of the prosperity teachers. You hear T.D. Jakes saying, “The devil is a liar. Healing is the children’s bread. It’s promised to us in the word of God…God can do things that medicine cannot do.” So if God has promised us healing and someone is still a paraplegic it means that you don’t have faith in their view.
This of course begs the question: What is faith? Faith teachers have a ready answer for you. They look at Hebrews 11:1 and they say faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, and through the force of faith you create your own reality. So if you learn to access the proper vocabulary, use the right words, you’re not going to be a paraplegic because Hebrew 11:1 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” So—say the Faith teachers—you have right it there, faith is the substance—the stuff—and words the containers of the stuff.
Of course that’s not what Hebrew 11:1 really has in mind. A proper reading of Hebrew 11:1 in context demonstrates that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Which is to say; true biblical faith is not stuff contained in your words. It’s not a substance, a tangible reality. It’s living assurance, a channel of living trust between an individual and their God.
Faith is only as good, therefore, as the object in whom it is placed. We place our faith in God and we say with Job, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (13:15). The reason for that is that God has given us enough evidence to trust in Him despite the difficulties of life. He had demonstrated to us that in this life we are going to have trouble because we live in a fallen world. So if you’re a paraplegic, it’s not because you don’t have enough faith. It’s because you live in a fallen world. We are called in this fallen world to put our trust in God and ultimately that trust in God is going to eventuate in a new heaven and new earth in which there will be no more paraplegics. Like Joni Eareckson Tada has said, “They will pole vault the pearly gates,” because then the old order of things will pass away, and everything will become new.
In the meantime, do not follow the Faith teachers or swallow their formulas, they are dead ends and deceptions. The last thing you want to tell a paraplegic is that he doesn’t have enough faith. Some of the greatest faith bearers and exemplars of faith that I have met in my life are blind people. Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic, is my hero of faith and she taught me the true meaning of faith. Through the overflow of a life spent in a wheelchair, she has blessed the lives through her faithful service of literally millions of people around the globe. So encourage those that are hurting that they will one day walk with the Lord and have pity for people in the church who find it necessary to tell people that they don’t have enough faith.
For further information on this topic, please check out my book Resurrection and Christianity in Crisis 21st Century both available at our Website www.equip.org or by calling us at 1-888-700-0274.