Most people have discovered the famous “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. You’ve probably heard messages talking about those great heroes Paul describes. Unfortunately, many pastors don’t continue to the end of the chapter.
First, the group everyone wants to be in.
And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 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. Women received their dead raised to life again … (Hebrews 11)
A good summary of what Paul discussed in the first 30 verses of the chapter.
That sounds great, where do I sign up? Join the club with Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, and those guys? That’s Grrrrrrrreat!
… but keep reading.
… and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment; They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tested, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
Oops. I don’t like that group. I don’t like it a lick, no, not one bit, I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like it Sam I am (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).
Notice, however, they all have the same faith, which leads to a question: Why are some healed, others not?
A heresy goes around claiming if you’re not healed, if you don’t have a big house and a Lexus, with a pony in the backyard (or two if God really loves you), you don’t have faith.
Hebrews 11 should shatter that heresy; it’s laughably absurd. If everyone just had faith, they’d be healed with a big Lexus and a pony, right?
Not according to Paul. Not only here in Hebrews, but remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Did Paul lack faith when he prayed? I doubt it (raise your hand if you think Paul lacked faith or devotion to be healed. Yeah, me neither).
Yet he wasn’t healed. Why?
What difference exists between Moses (the first group) and Isaiah (in the second)?
I’ve discovered the secret to this issue people have struggled with for centuries. Are you ready? Drum-roll please…
I’ve got no idea.
Worse, nobody else does either, and if anyone says differently, they’re wildly uninformed, or lying.
We have at least one situation (Paul’s thorn in the flesh) where a giant of faith wasn’t healed, and the Lord specifically informed Paul it wasn’t going to happen.
I think sometimes God doesn’t heal or save because He knows those people can handle it. Sometimes (not always by any means), I think it’s the ones who are healed who are weak in faith. God knows who can handle how much, and for His reasons, in His time, some (like Paul) are told “My grace is sufficient for you.”
If you’re in trials, sure, you should ask the Lord for intervention. But if you’re not cured, don’t get the Lexus (or the pony), consider the possibility the Lord considers your shoulders broad enough to handle the burden.
I’m reminded of a story about the late great Dale Earnhardt, told by a fellow driver.
“Early in the qualifier, Dale got into the back of me and got me all sideways up through the middle of Turns 3 and 4,” Houston said. “I thought I was gonna crash. I mean, I was way out of control. Well, when we got down there for pre-race for the 500, he come up and grabbed me around the neck like he always does and kinda squeezes you half to death.
“He said, ‘You were bad out of shape in that qualifying race, wasn’t you?!?’ I said, ‘Yeah, because you had my back wheels off the ground.’ He kind of snickered a little bit, and said, ‘Yeah … I knew you could handle it.’
Perhaps, just perhaps, you’re stuck in a trial because while you think you’re slideways and bad out of shape the Master says “I know you can handle it.”
… because it’s 2:59AM.
“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” (old Jewish Proverb)