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Confidence in God’s Character

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Just days before her son was born, doctors told a young mother that the child had life-threatening heart defects. Delicate surgery was necessary to correct congenital flaws detected in the tiny organ. Without intervention, the baby would not survive more than a few hours. A surgical team was scheduled to be on hand the next day when labor was induced.

When the little boy was delivered, however, the attending physician decided to postpone the operation. As the surgeons stood by, the baby’s heart grew stronger with each beat. The obstetrician studied the situation incredulously before dismissing the team. In one hand, she held the records from the previous day’s tests, and in the other, she grasped the lengthening tape being generated by the instruments attached to the newborn’s body. Finally, turning hesitantly toward the young mother, she declared, “I do not know what has happened, but this child has a new heart.”

For more than three months before the birth, believers had prayed fervently for God to give strength and health to both mother and child. When she and her husband were told that there was little chance their child would survive with surgery and no chance he would do so without it, they were understandably crushed. Still, they were reluctant to ask God to heal the child. Having previously been involved in a cult-like church where the burden of healing was placed upon the believers” faith rather than the grace of God, neither parent was confident that James’s instructions to call for church elders to anoint and pray in faith could be trusted. They did not doubt God’s ability to heal; the question was whether God was actually willing to do so.

Although the book of Daniel seems an unlikely place to turn in such crises of faith, chapter 3 contains an important lesson. After refusing to bow before the king’s idol, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego remained both confident and defiant. “O Nebuchadnezzar,” they said, “we do not need to defend ourselves in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (vv. 16-17).

It is one thing to believe that God has healed others and another to trust that is He willing to heal me. In that sense, asking the Lord for divine healing is always a matter of faith. The effectual petition for healing rests upon our discernment of God’s character. Healing is not dependent upon our virtue but upon the virtue of Christ and the power of the cross. The three heroes in Daniel’s narrative knew the character of the God they served. They were sure He could deliver them. Their defiant words also indicate that they were certain He would deliver them.

Still, their faith did not depend upon their anticipated rescue. They were resolutely determined that no adverse circumstance and no unwelcome result would undermine their confidence or weaken their resolve. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were steadfast. No matter what God decided to do about their circumstances, their confidence remained firm. They would serve no other god.

As you may expect, when the baby was given a new heart, the entire congregation rejoiced at the glowing testimony to God’s healing power. God did answer the prayers of the church. The test results proved it. More importantly, another wonder had occurred. The faith with which this young woman and her husband reached out toward heaven in a time of intense anguish and helplessness was rewarded. It was a miracle grounded in the recognition that the God who gave His Son to end the curse of sin and death was wholly trustworthy regardless of the circumstance.

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