If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky?
This is a very interesting question, but the next question is even more important.
If a person lives within the familiar goodness of God, does he have faith?
“If” is a pivotal word, and it is in usual form in John 11. Martha and Mary both comment to Jesus, “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21, 32). Knowing the rest of the story, you are tempted to criticize them, however, insert yourself into their experience. At best, they have heard of times where Christ raised the recently dead. They have seen way more healings than resurrections. Their hope hung upon the fact, Christ could heal their brother. Maybe even after Lazarus sighed his final breath and slipped into the afterlife, they gazed out the window desperate to see Jesus. But when the sun set three times before they heard anything from Christ, their faith had withered.
Jesus makes his own “if” statement to Martha. Encased in a question he says, “If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God” (John 11:40). Press pause right there, and compare the two “if” statements. Martha’s and Mary’s statement to Christ used the formula: If-thou-brother. Christ’s statement to Martha used the formula: If-thou-God.
What Martha and Mary had was familiar faith. It was informed faith. Because they had seen Christ heal, they knew He could heal. It is faith, but informed faith is not sourced in God. Informed faith is sourced in your experience. Hebrews 11 describes faith for us: “Faith is the…evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Informed faith is faith within the confines and comfort of experience. Informed faith afflicts us with short-sightedness, seeing only His goodness.
Informed faith is a sight problem. Yes, you appreciate the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, but faith causes you to look past His goodness to see His glory. It is only when we desire to see His glory we actually “please Him” and will be rewarded as ones who “diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The faith which pleases God is not a familiar faith, but a frontier faith. This is the faith which embarks on a journey to “see the glory of God.” With the knapsack of God’s promises flung over your shoulder, you step off the trail of the familiar into the frontier and explore the glory of God.
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Psalm 17:15)