Faith vs. Understanding


DEAR FATHER PAUL: I am a 41 year-old business owner who has had huge success in the past. Now, due to some poor business decisions on my part, I am facing loss of the business and personal bankruptcy. Basically, I need a miracle, and I need it soon!

The problem is that, while I do believe in God, I don’t think I believe in miracles. I know faith is involved, but as a very well educated person, with several degrees, it is really hard for me to have faith unless I can first fully understand what God is doing and how and why he’s doing it.

A dear older lady in my family told me, “With God all things are possible. Only believe.” Can it really be that simple?  R.D.

DEAR R. D.: Yes, it pretty much is that simple.

The one thing that God honors above all else is faith or trust in him. Hebrews 11:6 in the New Testament (NIV) says this. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Does that mean that, if we have faith and trust in God and we come to him in faith asking for a miracle, he will always grant us our miracle?

Well … no, it doesn’t. Sorry. It’s very likely, but not guaranteed.

So why might God NOT grant us a miracle? Several reasons. Maybe he plans to do the miracle “later,” just not right now. Or, he has something even better in his plan for us than what we are seeking. Or, the request does not fully line up with his Word, the Bible. For instance, we can’t ask for the “miracle” of falling in love with our secretary, leaving our wife and kids and running off with her!

The problem is that most of us don’t really know very much about God and, because we are so busy living life, we don’t take the time that is required get to know him and learn his ways. While everything we need to know about God is revealed to us in his Word, the Bible, many folks are intimidated by the Bible’s length and all of the old words like “thee,” “thou,” “ye” and “thine.”

However, any person who gets a modern, easy-to-understand Bible translation and then reads only one chapter a day (a little less than five minutes a day) will have read the entire Bible in about three years. Not a “quick fix” for sure, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

In any case, I really identify a lot with you, R.D. In my younger, college years I was a kind of (self-styled) intellectual. My friends and I had lots of late-night bull sessions where we solved all of the world’s problems.

One night the subject of “belief in miracles from God” came up. I remember proudly announcing to the group, “Based on science and reason I don’t understand how miracles are possible, and until I can first understand something, I can’t believe in it. I am first and foremost a seeker of understanding.”

Wow. Such youthful pride. But its exactly where most people are today. We say, “When I can understand it, then I’ll believe in it.”

When I put my head on the pillow later that night, the Lord spoke these words that I have never forgotten in my spirit. He said, “Paul, you have it just backwards. In the kingdom of this earth you try to understand first … THEN you can believe. But in my kingdom you are to believe FIRST … THEN I will give you the understanding that you seek as well as multiplied blessings.”

From that experience, over fifty years ago, I became and remain a different man. And as I have (sometimes with difficulty) believed for a miracle simply as an act of my will, with no advance understanding of how or even why God was going to act, he has graciously granted me numerous miracles.

Two verses come to mind for you, R.D.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT) “Trust in (have faith in) the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”

Isaiah 55:9 (NLT) “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

I am believing with you for your miracle, R.D.

Do you have a question or a comment? Send it to me at

(Father Paul Massey is pastor emeritus of Church Of The Holy Cross in Fayetteville. Visit for information, directions and service times.)