Astonishing Faith

“When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” ~Matthew 8:10

You think God’s ever astonished by your faith? You think you’ve ever prayed a prayer to God and, as soon as it’s over, he jumps up and says, “Whoa! We haven’t seen faith like that in years!” And God gets on the intercom system there in heaven and says, “Wow! Y’all won’t believe the faith of this guy down there!”

You think God’s ever been astounded by your great faith?

The kind of faith that astonishes Jesus is a humble and complete dependence on God. And I wonder about our complete dependence. I wonder about mine.

I wonder how much different it was 2000 years ago. When fever was a disease and not a symptom. Before modern medicine, what was it like to pray for healing? When forecasting the weather meant reading the calf liver or Grandpa’s arthritic knees. Before meteorology, what was it like to pray for rain? Before cropdusters and insecticides and fertilizers and refrigerators and Wal-Mart SuperStores, what was it like to pray for food? You know what I mean? Forget 2000 years ago. What about 60 or 70 years ago? What was it like to pray?

As technology changes, does our dependence on God change? Is it that the more we know about our world the less we depend on our God? I’m not sure. But let’s think about it.

Pray for rain? Well, I’ve seen the doppler radar and the skyview atmospheric predictor and the seven-day forecast. It’s going to rain Tuesday. Or, the next chance for precipitation won’t be for another couple of weeks. See. We need God for some things. But we know if it’s supposed to rain or not.

Pray for food? Is there anybody reading this blog who hasn’t eaten today? Anybody who’s not going to eat tomorrow? Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t have every single thing he needs to get through tonight and on in to tomorrow? We depend on God for some things. But there’s milk and meat in the fridge and the pantry’s full and I get paid on Friday.

Pray for healing? But I’ve seen the MRI. We have the X-Rays and the CT-scan. We’ve consulted with the doctors and been to two specialists. We know what’s going to happen. So, I’ll pray for the doctors. God bless the doctors. Help them to do what they can. Help them to find the problem. Help them to cure the disease. Help the surgery to be a success. We’re praying for the middle man! Ever read of anybody in Scripture praying for the middle man? It’s not the middle man! It’s God! God is the one who heals!

Yeah, but again, we’ve seen the test results. We’ve heard the doctors. It doesn’t look good. So we pray for healing and say, “If it’s your will…”

And I know we’re supposed to pray for God’s will. Of course we pray for God’s will. But never when praying for God’s will is our “out” or our excuse when the doctors say there’s not much hope: “If it’s your will…even though I’m not expecting it to be your will because the doctors have already said it’s not.”

I’m just curious. Before the days of X-Rays and MRIs and CT-scans, did we couch our prayers for healing with “if it’s your will”? Were our prayers different when we weren’t sure of the problems and weren’t already certain of the outcome? Was our dependence on God more and our dependence on ourselves and others less back then? Is there a problem?

God says through Isaiah, “I made you. I will carry you. Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you.”

The Centurion calls Jesus “Lord.” Just say the word, he exclaims, and I know my servant will be healed.

Complete dependence. Total humility. Astonishing faith.




  1. Jill W.

    This was a great post, Allan!

  2. DavidW

    Two quotes come to mind:
    “…all the great religions were first preached, and long practiced, in a world without chloroform.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

    “Lord we cleared this land, we plowed it sowed, harvested it and cooked the harvest and it wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eating if we hadn’t done it all ourselves and we worked dog bone hard for every morsel but we thank you anyway Lord for the food we’re about to eat.” Charlie Anderson (James Stewart) in the movie Shenandoah.

  3. Allan

    I’m wondering if Matt Groening was inspired by that Jimmy Stewart line when he had Bart Simpson word a similar prayer around the thanksgiving table. “Thank you, God, for this food even though you didn’t buy it and you didn’t cook it.”

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