Langston Hughes wrote a poem about a poor, black mother who had no choice but to keep climbing a “tacked,” “splintered,” “torn up” staircase, “sometimes walking in the dark where there ain’t been no light” (“Mother to Son”). She might have lived in deteriorating conditions of darkness, but she never quit climbing. Despite her deficient condition, she had enough compassion to look outside of it to consider the condition of another--a son of the then Harlems of the world--to offer a word of encouragement. “Don’t Quit.” She, a mother of Harlem, offers a word of encouragement to one of its sons.
Even though the plight of the Black man might have been different than hers, they did have something in common, and her experience of walking in faith empowered her to offer something he desperately needed. We are told in Hebrews 11:1 that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If one has never had to rely on God for food, or shelter, or safety, that person does not have the personal experience to talk about what God can do in that situation.
Although the mother never invokes the name of God, I am nevertheless reminded of her when I think of this topic. Only someone who walks in the dark where there ain’t been no light” is empowered to encourage someone else to do the same. Their power is their faith experience. They can say, “I’ve been there, I know. This is what God did for me.” They are equipped to give a powerful testimony about the power of God. Anyone else is giving theory alone. They can only tell you what they have heard. There is a power of faith, however, in knowing for yourself. This is the power of faith that serves others.
There is also a power of faith within the individual. "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you” (Luke 17:6). Imagine the faith-power potential that Christians have been given. In Matthew 17:20, we are told that if we have mustard seed faith, we can move mountains. I cannot say that I have ever moved a mountain in my life. I must say then that I am walking around with a lot of untapped spiritual potential.
We heard it said that “Knowledge is power.” Knowledge may elevate one person over another. It may qualify individuals with positions of influence; but there is another power that cannot be purchased, extorted, or inherited. It is freely given to those who would only believe. It is a gift that God alone gives.
A missionary in my church was very sick with pneumonia, and the doctor told her daughter that he didn’t think she would survive. When the daughter told her mother what the doctor said, the mother couldn’t wait to have a talk with him. When she did, she asked him, “Who told you that I’m not gonna live? Do you know the God I serve?” She confronted the doctor’s fatalist attitude with faith and power, and was eventually discharged from the hospital. Three weeks later, she looked forward to walking into his office for a follow-up visit, full of life. The power of her faith allowed her to confront and deflect someone else’s doubts.
In all, faith should protect against anyone or anything that seeks to instill disbelief in the power of God.
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