“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. Everything is possible for one who believes.” – Mark 9:23
I’ve always been a fixer. It’s kind of what I do. When something’s broken, I fix it. See a cracked or chipped place in the wall? I patch it up. Leaky faucet? Yep, that’s me with the wrench (well, in truth I’m not much of a plumber but I’m dynamite with a cell phone so I know who to call). Broken relationships? Bring ‘em on. Thorny problem at work? Send it my way. And don’t even get me started about crooked pictures. Tip: if you ever invite me over for a cup of coffee or bite to eat, don’t be surprised to find me wandering around your house looking for crooked pictures, smudged windows, out-of-place books. It’s a curse.
As a boy, I had a reputation for figuring things out. The neighborhood kids always knew they could count on me to make a broken bike good again, or come up with something to do on a boring weekend afternoon. I built model planes and cars without ever looking at the directions, because that’s just what I did. I never needed directions. Being a typical man, I don’t ask for directions to this day. Um, yeah – it’s gotten me into trouble more than once or twice, but that’s a different subject. Regardless of how lost I may seem, I’ve never accepted a situation as hopeless.
One of my great childhod heroes, one of the guys I modeled myself on, was Captain James T. Kirk. Kirk defined the idea of the ultimate fixer. He never believed in the no-win scenario. Yeah, yeah, I know he was created by Gene Roddenberry and only lives in films, but Kirk could fix anything! I wanted to be just like him.
Of course, with age comes “wisdom” – that grown-up sounding word too often serving as a proxy for “acceptance” in place of “perseverance.” We learn of consequences. We learn of fallibility. We learn of our own shortcomings and inadequacies. We learn of the brokenness in our hearts and how sometimes no matter what we do, we can’t fix the problems right in front of us.
It’s a hard realization for someone convinced of their own invincibility. Someone like
I have a friend, a very close friend. My friend has recently been struggling; wrestling
with internal voices and external pressures and doubts and uncertainties. Many of the same issues a lot of us face every day. There are times when these voices and pressures and doubts become deafening, drowning out the real truth: my friend is, in ways large and small, amazing. As a parent, as the child of parents, as a friend, as a sibling, as a human being. Absolutely, utterly amazing. A miracle – just as we all are.
The fixer in me wants to help, to rush in and begin barking orders, to repair the brokenness. But I can’t. It saddens me, and hurts my heart.
How many of us have faced this, a situation where we are absolutely powerless to solve the pain we see in someone else, wanting to solve the problem but unable to execute the rescue? It’s a sobering, humbling experience. And sometimes, it causes us to doubt.
A story very early in the Bible, from the book of Genesis, reminds me of this scenario.
Abraham and his wife Sarah had wanted a child for years. Yet they had never conceived. Sarah, assuming she was simply not meant for motherhood, had long ago put away her hope.
One day, God appears to Abraham, in the form of three men standing under a tree. Abraham instructs Sarah to prepare a meal for the strangers and visits with them.
During their conversation, God asks Abraham where his wife is. Then He says something incredible: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10).
Nearby, Sarah overhears their conversation and laughs out loud, saying she and Abraham
were too old and she would never have the pleasure of a child. She had given up.
When God heard Sarah’s laughter, He said to Abraham “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?”
Is anything too hard for God? We each face challenges and difficult situations in life. And in the midst of them God asks, “Do you think your problem is too hard for me to fix? Or do you believe I can work it out for you, even though you think it’s impossible?”
Jesus reminds us in Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” How many of us really believe this? How many of us accept that God can perform the
impossible in our lives, in our families, in our jobs, in our futures?
Of course, we’re quick to counsel others that He can. We tell others to pray, to have hope, to believe in the impossible because God is the doer of the impossible. But do we really believe these truths for ourselves?
Sarah, who was filled with doubt, would likely have offered this very counsel to her friends. Imagine she heard about a Godly couple in a similar situation – faithful people who wanted a baby but were too old to bear one. The couple believed God had promised them a child, but now they were growing older. And little by little, they were losing confidence in their dream.
She might tell them, “Hold on. Don’t give up hope for your dream. You serve a God who does the impossible. He will fix everything for you.”
Yet Sarah didn’t believe this for herself. Many of us feel the same way today, boldly proclaiming God’s power to others, but in our hearts lacking belief in His word for ourselves.
Unspoken truth: we can’t really believe in
God until we believe He is God of the Impossible
You won’t read that in the Methodist Book of Discipline, the Presbyterian Book of Order, the Church of Christ Book of Worship, the Baptist Manual of Theology Christian Doctrine Church Order, or even the Catholic Book of Canon Law. Astonishingly, it’s the ultimate
Truth of our faith. God is not simply the Creator, the maker of all things, who acts and then sits back watching it unfold. God is also an action-oriented DO-ER who yearns to do the impossible in our lives. The message of Scripture is clear: if we don’t believe this about Him, we don’t believe in Him at all.
Counseling is big these days. In my experience, no amount of counseling does a person any lasting good if he or she doubts God for the miracles He delivers every day of our lives. I talk to a lot of folks, many of them seeking … something, anything. Most of these individuals live their lives in relative resignation, content that they will get by, and not expecting anything remotely miraculous. Others are in real pain, believing their lives to be hopeless, their situations beyond redemption.
In both cases, counseling can’t do much beyond temporarily assuaging discomfort, like a soul-sized aspirin. Words will dull the pain, but only for a time. The real cure, the permanent fix, comes not from the patient and wise counsel of a friend or professional, but rather from our surrender to the healing power of God.
Some answer, “But you don’t know what I’ve been through. I’ve been wounded deeply. My hurt is beyond what you could ever imagine.” And it’s true that there are private hells many of us have lived that no one can fathom.
Yet, this kind of response points to only one thing: they’ve bought into The Lie. The Lie of Hopelessness. The Lie of Impossibility. The Lie that God is powerless to help them.
No amount of counseling or shoulder-leaning or therapy in the world can help us unless we absolutely believe God’s word: Nothing in our lives is beyond His ability to fix. Otherwise, our faith is in name only, futile and impotent. The unspoken truth underlying our faith is this: we can’t really believe in God until we believe He is God of the Impossible.
I’m a father, blessed with two amazing, beautiful daughters for whom I would do or give anything. So I relate very well to a story told in Mark 9:14, where a distraught father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples seeking deliverance.
This boy was considered hopeless. Both deaf and speechless, he spewed out only guttural sounds. He foamed at the mouth like a mad dog, and physically he was skin and bone, emaciated by his awful struggle. His father had to hold onto him continually, because the demons constantly tried to cast him into the nearest river, lake or open fire, wanting to kill him. His situation was dire.
While the father asked the disciples for their help, the boy’s demons began manifesting
themselves as he foamed at the mouth, rolling on the ground, contorting and gyrating wildly. Scripture tells us the disciples prayed over him – perhaps for a long time – but nothing happened.
It must have seemed an impossible situation. Soon the doubting scribes crowded around, asking, “Why is the boy not healed? Is this case too hard for your Lord? Is the devil more powerful here?”
And then Jesus came on the scene. When he asked what was going on, the father answered, “I brought my son to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. He’s a hopeless case.” Jesus responded simply, “All things are possible to he who believes.” Christ
was telling everyone present, “Do you believe I’m able to handle anything except what Satan has claimed for his own? I tell you, there is no problem, no impossible circumstance, I cannot fix.”
Then,with a single word, Jesus made the impossible a reality. He discharged the unclean spirit and, taking the boy by the hand, lifted him from the ground.
Can you imagine the joy in this scene? That clean, freed boy must have run to his father and embraced him. And the father’s heart leapt with joy. God had fixed it all.
God restores whatever appears dead in our lives with a single word. The news in recent months has been filled with stories of desperate economic conditions. Are you having financial problems, unable to pay your bills? So it was with Christ’s disciples – and he fixed their situation supernaturally.
When tax time came around, Christ and his disciples had no money to pay the needed
amount. How did Jesus fix the situation? He sent Peter out to catch a fish. To fish! Jesus told him he would find a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught, and that coin would cover their tax bill.
Imagine what Peter must have thought: “Money in a fish’s mouth? Really?? Jesus must have enjoyed a little too much of that wine last night…” I can relate. Yet, when Peter reeled in the first flopping fish, he opened its mouth to find a gleaming coin. The amount
was enough to pay their taxes, just as Jesus had said. We need, and God acts.
Here’s the point: whether it’s cleaning a foul spirit from a child, or providing for taxes, or raising someone from the dead, or feeding a multitude, or reaching into our lives and pulling us from the depths of despair, God’s greatest work is that He can fix our situations as well as the reasons we find ourselves there.
You see, God acts even when we don’t, even when we won’t, even when we can’t. He stands ready to save us even from our most desperate brokenness. And He does this
with or without our acceptance. Yet to receive the power of those actions, we must accept as true His ability to act as God of the Impossible. In a word, we must Believe.
The friend I mentioned earlier is, I’m happy to report, taking action, even as I write these words. And I’m so incredibly proud of my friend for taking this step. I may be unable to fix the situation, as much as I want to believe I could, but with God’s help, and with prayer, I have no doubt my friend will overcome the doubts and fear and pain and sense of insufficiency holding them back from realizing the miracle they truly are.
God can fix anything. Even us. It’s kind of what He does.
Copyright © 2011 Robin Green. Feel free to share.