My husband and I are currently praying faithfully for three couples who are in significant marital stress. Affairs are going on in all three. Our son told us about several friends of his, all in their 30s, who are quitting on marriage. Sadly it is such a common occurrence that we are usually not shocked by the news. We shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well.”
Maybe someone put God in prison, and that’s why He’s not doing anything.
When I was still a new Christian, having just moved out on my own after college, I remember reading a verse that caught my attention. It reads, “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58), and again in Mark 6:6, it says of Jesus that he “marveled because of their unbelief.” I remember clearly thinking to myself, “I do not want to be like that.” But unbelief is like gravity, always pulling me away from faith and into the resignation of unbelief.
Maybe God is not in prison after all; maybe it’s we who are in restraints.
I’m researching again for another devotional book, this one on truthfulness. When one is truthful, that person is full of truth, and it becomes a state of being, the definition of the suffix, -ness. Perpetua was one of the earliest and most famous of the Christians killed for her faith by the Romans in 202 A.D. She was just 22 years old and a new mom of a six-month-old. It is impossible to read her story and not ask the obvious question, would I stand firm and refuse to renounce Christ and my faith? This young woman was full of truth. She had a faith that acted on the truth that Jesus was God and He was worth living for and, if necessary, dying for also.
There were those who caved to the pressure of the Romans, but their names are long forgotten. Those who stood firm, who did not falter in unbelief, are those whose stories live on today.
What would Perpetua say about our faith today? Would she look at our friends who are rejecting their marriage vows and tell them it’s okay, life is hard, enjoy it while you can? Or would she agree with Jesus and say that not many mighty works are being accomplished in our day because of our mighty unbelief?
Jesus told the disciples that Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. A hard heart is clearly not a believing heart. Too many, sometimes including me, want all the benefits of faith along with all the benefits of the world. That is what puts handcuffs on God.
James Robison, a famous preacher in the early 70s once said, “The problem with Christians these days is no one wants to kill them anymore.” That may change in the near future. I hope not. But he is right that because there is no threat, we don’t stand for much of anything. Unbelief rules the day.
Barbara Rainey is the Co-Founder of FamilyLife, the mother of six and a grandmother to 18 – she is also a mentor and friend to countless women in the United States and abroad. She is a gifted communicator – and artist – who has created, and continues to create, resources that help parents and children connect and impress on their hearts the truth of God’s word. Barbara is the Titus 2 woman we all long to spend time learning from and will embolden you to spend time in the word and be a world changer, while prioritizing family – she will inspire and empower!