What is the faith that pleases God? Is it found in believing that He will do whatever we ask of him as long as we don’t second guess (doubt) our own faith—and him in the process? Or is the faith that God is looking for the kind of trust that leaves the decision of our well-being, and his honor, with him?
Some believe that our faith fails, and we forfeit the miracle we are looking for, if we attach to our prayers the qualifying “if it is your will”.
But can the faith that pleases God rise higher than that expressed by the three friends of Daniel who were threatened with death by fire if they didn’t bow down to the golden image of the King of Babylon?
Let’s take another look at the story. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are three Jewish boys already bearing the insult of the Babylonian names given to them in their exile. Now they learn that the king whose soldiers destroyed their hometown of Jerusalem is ready to burn them alive if they don’t worship his gods and bow down to his image. With this threat he asks, “And who is the God who shall deliver you from my hand?
To this, the three answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan 3:16-18)
I their case, the “But if not…” seems to have expressed real trust in God. And, this time, leaving the outcome with God didn’t result in losing their miracle (Dan 3:19-27).
In our case many of us have been left not only with our lack of a miracle, but also wondering what Jesus meant when he assured his disciples that if they believed in God they could ask whatever they wanted and get it– as long as they didn’t doubt in their hearts (Mark 11:22-24).
My guess is that Jesus was speaking of a faith that is (1) a gift of God, (2) that expresses real confidence in God’s perspective and wisdom, rather than our own.