Portions of Psalm 27-The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom (OR WHAT) shall I be afraid?
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I SEEK: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to SEEK him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “SEEK his  face!” Your face, LORD, I will SEEK. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD
13 I am still confident of this: I will SEEK the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Sometimes when we pray, we get an answer immediately, and it’s the answer we want. Other times, we have to wait for an answer—often to the point where we wonder if we’ll ever get one. And sometimes even then, God reveals that He has a different plan in store.
When Christian singer Jeremy Camp’s soon-to-be wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, everyone around her prayed for her to be healed—and that prayer was answered. Melissa was miraculously cured. They got married and were excited to share their story with the masses and bring glory to God.
But God hadn’t finished revealing His plan for them. On their honeymoon, Melissa’s cancer returned. Sadly, there wasn’t a miraculous cure this time around. Despite desperate prayer and great faith, Melissa Camp died.
But all throughout her illness Melissa continued to believe that God was going to use her. She told Jeremy that if only one person’s life was changed by her story, “it [would] be worth it.” I Still Believe tells Melissa and Jeremy’s story. And it tells not only of their incredible love (which was super cute and inspiring as you see Jeremy’s devotion to Melissa and desire to marry her even though she was so sick) it tells that story and it revealed the tragic loss they faced, but it recounts how the young couple maintained their faith in God through all of it. Boy, that is the goal of my life. To have faith in God no matter what, all the way to the end of my life. How about you?
Faith and doubt. Love and grief. Heartbreak and hope. This movie elicits a roller coaster of emotions. It’s real pain. Real struggle. Real life. What do you do when you don’t get the answers you are praying for? I am so glad this movie didn’t sugar coat the heartaches we all face.
Jeremy and Melissa Camp teach us it’s possible to not only maintain your faith, but to watch it grow big in times of suffering, to see it blossom into something that even causes a profound gratefulness for God’s sovereignty, goodness and personal faithfulness to us when we are hurting.
The first lesson about faith that I want to highlight from the movie is this: Faith involves the decision to focus on the goodness of God.
Psalm 27, that I read as we began, talks about seeing God in the midst of difficulty. Did everyone notice the bolded, italicized and emphasized words as I read them? Ok, because my family tells me I can be dramatic, and I attempted to be as I read them. Listen, faith, for me, is the tenacious commitment to look for God when I am hurting and to make it my aim to see Him. David wrote Psalm 27 at a time when an enemy was coming at him, coming after him. It was a time that should have produced fear. People were seeking to kill him. There is nothing peaceful or fun about being in that predicament, but it didn’t deter him from seeking God, the One who could, verse 5, keep him safe and set him on a rock. Even though David’s life with filled with emotional highs and lows, great joys and great sorrows, like those experienced in the movie, he was singular in his focus to see God, and as he did, even though life had moments of pain and challenge, he remained “untouched” in a way as God lifted him above it all. In other words, because of his faith, because of his focus on looking for and chasing after the goodness of God, that which had the potential to crush him and to destroy his life could not because he was kept safe by the hand of God. Oh, he experienced the threat. He felt the betrayal. He went through the heartache, but God lifted him above it so that his life went on.
David said in verse 4 that his only aim was to see God. He wanted to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. He wanted to be in the presence of God in order, verse 13, to see God’s goodness. He said, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” What we learn as we grow in faith is that God is always good, even in the bad times. God is always good to us, even in the bad times, and God always producing something good in us even in the bad times if we are focused on His goodness.
Watch this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1cFw2t0w_E
Here’s the thing…we can choose to walk by faith which means we trust in God’s goodness and seek God’s goodness, or we can just become angry, cynical and bitter about the blows that life deals us. It takes no faith to get mad at God and others for the bad things that happen to us. It takes no faith to quit living an abundant life when we get knocked down. It takes no faith to bury our head in the sand and allow our circumstances to define us, to limit us, and to rob us of our potential and quality of life. But it does take faith to allow God to refine us in our trials so that our life becomes more abundant BECAUSE of our trials! Do you see that faith produces a reward? Faith is focusing on the goodness of God even when our circumstances would want to dictate otherwise. As you exercise faith in God you will be shaped by His goodness. Without that faith, you will be shaped by your circumstances.
You saw the reward of faith in the clip we just watched. Jeremy’s little brother was born with a special needs condition even though Jeremy, and no doubt his parents, had prayed otherwise. Jeremy’s dad’s ministry had stayed small even though he had prayed for fruit for the ministry. Listen, numbers aren’t always a predictor of Kingdom Impact. You can’t base Kingdom life on what you can see or what you can count. God is always working in ways we cannot see. People of faith understand this. Jeremy’s pastor dad could acknowledge that things had been different had hoped but because of his faith in the goodness of God it didn’t change the quality of his life. The quality of your faith, you see, has something to do with the quality of life you will enjoy. If you want a better quality of life focus on the quality of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the goodness of God to see you through.
Suffering can point us to and connect us with the goodness of God in ways even blessing cannot. Jeremy’s dad said, “Life isn’t full in spite of our disappointments, it’s full because of them.” Why could he say that? Because in the midst of disappointment, the goodness of God became more evident. That experience was only possible because the Camp family continued to hold God’s hand in the Valley.
Listen, too many of us are letting go of God’s hand in the Valley. David said in Psalm 27, “I’m not letting go of God’s hand in the valley. He is my light. He is my salvation. He is the stronghold of my life.” You get this sense that David was holding even tighter to God’s hand in those difficult moments and that tight grasp, that tight grip, produced a supernatural ability to see the goodness of God. If you are looking for it, you will see the goodness of God more clearly in times of heartache and distress.
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsBxMQ5hwq0
Did you see the goodness of God on display in that clip? I did. Before she died, she confessed her healing. God had already removed the pain from her body and had given her an eternal healing. The fact that she got to share that with Jeremy before she passed was another sign of God’s goodness. She was entering into a state of ultimate healing. Oh, he couldn’t have understood that was a goodness sign from God in that moment, but as he reflected on it later, it had to be too big to miss.
Near the end of the film, Melissa had this revelation from God, another sign of His goodness, which led her to say that “blessings are not better than suffering. They are two sides of the same coin and both bring us closer to the heart of God.” She said she was one of the lucky ones who got to experience both. Melissa had made a calculated decision to focus on God’s goodness, and because she did, she saw it.
Faith involves a public demonstration which benefits us and others. In the clip you are about to see, Jeremy Camp takes a big risk to share Melissa’s need for healing in front of thousands of people and he asked them to join him in praying for her healing.
Please start this clip at 3:32 Melissa gets prayed over
This part of their story was a real moving moment, but it was also the laying of a foundation for things to come, for things out in Jeremy’s future. You see, there was another musician at that concert, someone who needed to see that demonstration of faith, someone whose life was being squeezed by difficult circumstances, someone whose faith was being tested and that person couldn’t see the goodness of God in her situation until she witnessed Jeremy’s faith in that moment of transparency and courage.
Well, it wasn’t until two years after Melissa’s passing that that musician met up with Jeremy Camp and explained how his expression of faith, how his public sharing and public praying for his wife became a pivotal and life-giving moment for her. She was able to press into the goodness of God for herself and experienced a deliverance in her situation. That musician, that woman, eventually became Jeremy Camp’s second wife, Adrienne.
Jeremy Camp couldn’t have known two years prior when he publicly declared faith in the power of prayer that he was actually sowing a seed into the health and well-being and abundant life his future would hold because of his faith. His public faith in that concert became the fodder for the future blessing God would give to him after his heart had had time to heal. His faith in the midst of his pain became the seed for future blessing and joy. It was all part of his story because he didn’t hide his faith in God.
King David never tried to hide his faith or be quiet about his faith. He lived his life of devotion to God in the public eye. He wrote about it. He expressed it. He sang of it. He said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” David was the King! He was large and in charge, and yet, he publicly declared his dependence upon the Lord. In verse 11 he prayed for God to teach him and for God to lead him. He wasn’t counting on the wisest men in the Kingdom to tell him what to do. He was exercising faith in the wisdom and abiding presence of God. His faith was public, and because of that, those who watched his life were impacted for the better.
Faith is about more than belief. Hebrews 11, often referred to as the “Hall of Faith” chapter, is replete with example after example of men and women who did more than believe. They obeyed. They counted on God. They walked ahead at His lead. They risked something. They embraced something. They gave up something. They exerted effort in some way. They leaned on God in times of suffering.
Abel offered a sacrifice by faith in the Old Testament that pleased God (v. 4) By faith, Noah built the ark according to God’s instructions at a time when rain was unknown on the earth (v. 7). By faith, Abraham left His home, his life, his comfort zone and was willing to walk one day at a time as God directed and willingly offered up his only son as a sacrifice to God (8-10, 17) which resulted in God stopping him from doing so. Moses, by faith, led the children of Israel out of Egyptian captivity (23-29). By faith, Rahab hid Israelite spies in her home and her life was saved (v. 31). The chapter mentions many more heroes of the faith “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (vv. 33-34). Clearly, the existence of faith is demonstrated by action.
There is no real faith without demonstration and there is often little demonstration in times of ease, in times of comfort, in times of blessing. Am I right? You don’t really have to exercise faith when everything is going great. You exercise faith when it is dark, when it is difficult, when it is discouraging. Suffering calls us to flex our faith muscles.
You see, faith that doesn’t make a difference where the rubber meets the road, in your every day and in your struggle, isn’t faith. It might be an inspiring thought. It might be an ideal. It might be a good idea, but it won’t be faith. It might even be your perception of the best possible way to live, but it won’t be faith. Faith is the demonstration of trust in God no matter what whether He answers our prayers the way we want Him to or if He has a different or bigger plan. People who have a real faith believe God does have a way that is best and the way they live their life reveals that belief. Faith starts with a belief but is only practiced, is only real and active when it is acted upon.
What about your life is proof that you truly belong to Jesus? How do others know you are walking with Him? What can others point to as proof that your faith is more than words? What is the evidence that validates that you are a person of sincere faith? How is the way you exercise faith inspiring others to draw closer to Christ? Is your faith benefitting anyone else? Is it setting you up for a future filled with good things that comes as the reward of your faith? A personal relationship with Jesus is not supposed to be private, but it is to be a public demonstration of the faith we have in Him so that others will see the difference knowing Him makes.
The movie had a sad ending. Melissa Camp still died. The love story still ended with a broken heart, but because of the demonstration of both Jeremy and Melissa Camp’s faith, many lives have now had a new beginning. Many have come to Jesus. Many have found personal strength for their current trial, and Jeremy found a new beginning with his wife, Adrienne, that was a direct result of the demonstration of his faith the night he publicly prayed for Melissa.
I don’t have a clever way to wrap up this message. I don’t have a tidy bow to put on your pain. I only know this, if you will choose faith, it will bring your closer to God and will propel you into a future that you can’t even imagine. Trust in the goodness of God. Discipline yourself to look for God rather than to be overwhelmed by your circumstances and let others see God working in and through your pain. You’ll give life to someone else and you will set the stage for the new thing God wants to do in your own life.
Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UZKxHHWBL0