"Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing."
- Mark 5:36 AMP
Years ago, I heard a powerful testimony by a minister of the Gospel about the miracle-working power of God. This man told of how he had a speaking engagement at another church, and how after he spoke, the pastor invited his congregation to come up to the altar for prayer. One mother came with her little crippled son in her arms, asking for his healing. The pastor announced, "If there's anyone here who does not feel as though he can believe God for a miracle for this child, then let him leave now." Almost the entire church emptied out, and only a handful of people were left, including the visiting minister. The small group of believers laid hands on the sick child as the pastor prayed in faith for a miracle. Though nothing seemed to happen right away as a result of their prayers, the visiting minister encountered the mother and child sometime later, and discovered that the boy had indeed been healed and made whole.
Whenever I think of this story, I can't help thinking about Jesus' actions when a synagogue official sought Him out for the healing of his little girl who was near death. (Mark 5:22-24) As Jesus begins to follow the man to his home, He stops to speak to a woman in need. Suddenly, the official is informed that his child has already died. But Jesus isn't deterred. Scripture says: "Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, 'Don't be afraid; just believe.'" (Mark 5:36 NIV) Notice that as soon as words of doubt are spoken over the situation, the Savior immediately takes a stand against them, and He challenges the desperate father to keep on believing. Jesus is already creating an atmosphere of faith. The next verse shows how He goes even further by separating Himself from all but His most faithful companions: "And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John." (v.37 NASB) When Jesus arrives at the official's house, He finds mourners wailing over the dead child. As the Savior tries to comfort them, and to prepare them for the miracle that is to come, the Bible says, "they began laughing at Him." The Lord responds by "putting them all out," and allowing only "the child's father and mother and His own companions" to accompany Him. (v.40 NASB) The result is a mighty miracle of God as the child is restored to life.
If you've ever gone through a trial, then you know how the people around you can often speak words of doubt over your situation. When that happens, we can either take their dark words to heart, or we can resist and reject them, and continue to believe. By choosing faith instead of fear, we create a climate of faith for our situation, which opens the door for God's miracle-working power. Who we spend time with will greatly affect our faith-- and, therefore, our life. If the Son of God felt the need at times to separate Himself from doubt-filled people, how much more do we? Sometimes, it won't be possible to separate ourselves from doubters physically, but we can provide some protection for our faith by refusing to talk to them in-depth about our circumstances. We can choose to share our thoughts and feelings only with those who will join their faith with ours for our victory. No matter what we do, there may be times when we face ridicule for our faith in God. It may help if we remember that even Jesus faced ridicule and rejection, and for that very reason, He can empathize with us and encourage us.
The fact is that doubt can limit God's involvement in our lives and circumstances. The Bible says: "And because of their unbelief, He couldn't do any miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief." (Mark 6:5 NLT) It wasn't that the Son of God was powerless to perform miracles in His hometown of Nazareth, but that He chose not to in such a climate of doubt. The following verse says: "Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people." (Mark 6:6 NLT) In other words, the Savior moved on, deciding to look elsewhere for those who would believe. I urge you not to hinder the Lord's work in your life. The next time you are faced with a challenging situation, invite the Lord's unlimited power and provision by offering Him a climate of faith!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm in a trial and I hear words of doubt, help me to ignore them and to keep on believing. When I suffer ridicule or rejection, comfort me and strengthen me the way that only You can. Thank You for enabling me to say with conviction, "I refuse to doubt my God!"
- J. M. Farro