The World Needs Your Words
“How have you experienced God working in your life?” the Bible class teacher posed.
I recall a growing lump in my throat, as I tried to choke out words. The gratitude welled up, the tears pooled, but the words didn’t come.
Overcome by the grace of God, I could not yet speak of it. Words simply would not come. It was that overwhelming. That stunning. It was that fresh. But time and distance, and the encouragement of other disciples, helped me put voice to my experience—and a testimony was gradually born.
When the faith-filled talk about their personal experiences with Jesus, it builds up the Body. Their testimony lends both comfort and courage to others hungering after Him.
But sometimes it’s hard to offer your testimony.
Sometimes the pain is too raw. The adversity, too fresh. And words, too few.
Still, Jesus wants us to tell what He’s done for us. With eyes of faith, disciples see the work Jesus is doing in their lives, and voicing it helps others to see Him too. You remember the hemorrhaging woman, who made her way through the crushing crowd to get to Jesus, hoping to go unnoticed (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:43-48)? See how Jesus apparently wanted her to tell her story:
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:43-48)
This stricken woman “suffered a great deal” for a long time. But hope propelled her into the crowd to get to Jesus. And Jesus? He did not walk on, leaving her to remain silent. He hit pause, in the midst of the crowd, to offer up yet another teachable moment.
This account teaches multiple lessons. By it we learn Jesus is all-knowing and has power to heal. We learn about faith. But I also believe this encounter provided a few lessons specifically for His disciples.
Questions can serve a greater purpose:
- Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” (Luke 8:48). Reminiscent of God’s question to Adam and Eve in the Garden, Jesus sought relationship over revelation. He knew precisely what had happened. He was seeking a confession that would serve a greater purpose.
- Peter, rash and impetuous, challenged Jesus’ intuition. He did not see the value in interrupting the task-at-hand: getting to the home of Jairus to heal Jairus’s daughter. In looking intently upon one purpose, he overlooked another which Jesus was bringing to the forefront.
Different situations require a different approach:
- The disciples needed to learn how to delicately draw out the confession of the quiet and timid. The struggling. The outcast who prefer to remain hidden in a crowd. Confession is not always easily rendered. Sometimes it takes coaxing. Jesus addressed her tenderly (Luke 8:48). Because sometimes you can’t push, but must gently tug.
Confession leads to blessing:
- Jesus wanted her to declare what He had done for her—for in confession is great blessing. After all, it was the confession of others that spurred her faith into action (Mark 5:27).
- A blessing left unconfessed squelches it. It keeps it from becoming an even greater blessing.
- Faith must be expressed . . . verbalized. And when it is, it encourages others.
- Had she not confessed, she would have denied herself the commendation and blessing of Jesus (Luke 8:48). And the recognition of the glory of God in Christ Jesus.
- The disciples were being groomed to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:2). It would be their Spirit-filled confession of the light and life of King Jesus that would contain power for faith to propel the Church into the nations.
By our testimony, faith is encouraged in others and Jesus is glorified. But sometimes it is hidden, untrained, in others. Pray for the discernment and gentle touch of Jesus to help nurture and coax it into the light—for by confession faith is made noticeable.
(For more from Debbra, visit her website at debbrastephens.com.)