My father, David, was younger than me when his first wife left him for another man (note: my father’s first wife was not my mother). It was 1974, and the implosion of their marriage was messy, leaving him bitter and questioning his faith.
Sitting in the passenger’s seat as his father drove down the highway, he vented his frustrations and eventually began railing against God.
“All of this ‘Jesus loves me’ stuff is a bunch of bull,” he said, crying.
“How am I supposed to believe Jesus loves me when He lets this kind of stuff happen?”
My grandfather, a seasoned, Free-Will Baptist preacher didn’t offer much comfort.
“David, you know Jesus loves you. We always taught you that.”
“That ain’t gonna cut it today, dad.”
“But it’s there in the Bible, David,” grandpa said.
“That ain’t gonna cut it either,” said dad. And then he asked, with his voice shaking, “Daddy, do you really believe Jesus loves me?”
Before grandpa could respond, my dad blew up and said, “I’ll tell you what. You can say whatever you want. If Jesus doesn’t show up on the bank of this highway, look me in the eyes, and tell me He loves me, then I don’t want anything to do with Him anyway.”
As soon as the last word left his mouth, a truck with a camper on the back pulled in front of the car. Three little girls looked at him from the back window of the camper and screamed, “Hey mister! Jesus loves you!”
My dad and grandpa looked at each other in shock. It was the dead of winter, the windows were rolled up, and they had both heard the three little girls perfectly.
I love miraculous stories like that. And I hunger for more of them, seeing them as signs of God’s love. Yet in the back of my mind, I’m nagged by Jesus’ words: “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” (Matthew 16:4).
I struggle with that verse. What’s so wicked about wanting a little confirmation from God? For me, the problem is that the desire is often rooted in doubt. I seek miraculous signs so I can justify believing in a God I can’t see – a God who sometimes lets me down.
And in those moments, I’m not that different from my frustrated dad, demanding Jesus perform a magic trick before I will surrender and give Him the trust He already deserves.
Now, to be clear, I love heavenly breakthroughs just as much as anyone, and I’m not putting them down. But here’s the thing – Jesus isn’t a circus performer. Sometimes He blesses us with tangible glimpses of glory; but many times, we’re stuck walking things out in blind faith. I know, it’s disappointing – we want a sign, something to validate our faith and remove our doubts.
To that, He says, “You want a sign? My faithless child, look at My death and resurrection. These were for you. Pause before demanding further proof and remember, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe” (John 20:29).
I know He’s right, but simple belief doesn’t come naturally. So I throw myself at His feet, “cry out, and say with tears, ‘Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!'” (Mark 9:24).
And in time, Jesus always casts out my doubt with His love, “takes me by the hand, lifts me up, and I arise” (Mark 9:27), recognizing that His love is the miracle.