By Mark A. Finley
One evening after a Bible Study seminar in Chicago a middle-aged woman with a distressed look on her face asked if we could talk. She explained that she was battling breast cancer, and she had a few questions. With all sincerity she asked, “Pastor, if I’m not healed, does that mean I don’t have enough faith? If I had more faith, would I be immediately healed?”
Then she said, “Pastor, some of my friends say that my problem isn’t really cancer—it’s a lack of faith. Is this true?”
In this month’s lesson we will explore together what faith is, how to exercise it, and how to increase it.
1Read Proverbs 3:5, 6. How is faith defined in this text? Where does genuine faith find its focus?
Faith is trusting God as a well-known friend. It believes that He will not do us harm and that His intentions for us are only good (see Jer. 29:11). It does not demand answers from God, but seeks to discover what will bring glory to Him in each aspect of our lives. It does not focus on what we want—it focuses on what He wants (see Matt. 26:39).
2Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. The apostle Paul earnestly prayed for deliverance from a physical affliction. Many Bible scholars believe the problem was with his eyesight. How did God answer Paul’s prayer? What does that tell us about faith?
3David was no stranger to affliction. How did David’s faith enable him to relate to the affliction he experienced? Read Psalm 119:67, 68. What did he declare about God while he was experiencing affliction? What this tell us about faith?
The trials in our lives can make us either bitter or better. Affliction can either draw us closer to the heart of God or drive us further from Him; it all depends on our view of God. If we trust Him and believe that He is good, and does good, we will have faith in His overruling providence, even in life’s most difficult moments.
4Read 1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 4:19, and Psalm 46:1. What promises does God give us that we can grasp by faith in life’s tough times? As you read these passages, reflect on what God is saying to you at this moment in your life.
5If our faith seems weak at times, how can we increase it? Read Romans 10:17.
Our faith is strengthened and built up as we read God’s Word. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible will inspire us as we read it. The more we know God, the more we will trust Him. God’s Word is powerful (see Heb. 4:12); it builds and strengthens our faith.
6Is it possible to read the Bible and get very little out of it? Why? Does Hebrews 4:2 surprise you?
Hebrews describes a group of people who heard God’s Word, but it did not profit them at all. Why not? Obviously, they listened with their ears, but never internalized the things they heard. They did not carefully meditate upon the truths they were hearing and by faith apply them to their lives. What does this say to you about your own Bible study?
7Read Romans 15:4. As we read the experiences of Bible characters, what happens in our own lives?
The study of God’s Word gives us a new vision of life. It deepens our trust in God, increases our faith, and fills us with hope. As we learn to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), our trust in God will increase. Indeed, John described God’s end time people as having the “faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).
In His darkest hour on the cross, Jesus placed His life in the arms of His loving Father. He trusted God with what He didn’t understand, and we can too.
This is the authentic, biblical faith I shared with a troubled woman in Chicago many years ago.