In this week’s episode, I want to continue our topic on faith. However, this episode will also be very light on scripture references.
I have recently been captivated by binge-watching the Angel Studios series “The Chosen.” While this series takes on a bit of creative license that I find rather intriguing, it presents the events of Jesus and his disciples in a dramatic format. In watching this series, I have taken an interest in one disciple’s character, which I have been able to identify with strongly. In the series, the character “Little James” portrays the disciple James (the son of Alphaeus), occasionally referenced in commentary and study as James the Lesser. He’s not perceived as lesser because he matters less than the rest of the disciples but is presented in both scholarly works and The Chosen series as younger or smaller than his fellow disciple James(the Son of Zebedee).
However, in The Chosen series, “Little James” is cast with a physical disability (partial paralysis) that sets him apart from his fellow disciples in some aspects. Now it needs to be said I have not found actual scripture to support this; the Bible says very little about “Little James” other than the reference to his existence and presence at key events, or anything about him having a disability (I would be interested in my curiosity in seeing any research to support this disability concept.)
So this week’s episode is about something other than exploring the scriptural validity of this claim. Still, instead, I wish to use this character and a scene from the series as an example. First, I recommend you watch this series. You can find it by visiting Angel.com or downloading the Angel Studios App on your mobile device for free, as it is a donor-supported project. I like how they have highlighted the human aspect of Jesus and the humanity of his disciples. This creative license allows us to identify with Jesus’s evolution as the Messiah and his disciples’ faith, sacrifice, and commitment.
To not be a spoiler, I recommend watching the series, at least through Season 3 Episode 2, before continuing this podcast.
Now that the spoiler alert has been made; let’s continue with the example I want to present.
In “The Chosen” Season 3, Episode 2, Jesus sends his disciples in teams of two to spread the word among the Jewish communities. Before “Big James” (son of Zebedee) and “Little James” (son of Alphaeus) depart for the plains on Sharon, “Little James” approaches Jesus privately. (00:53:14) for your viewing reference. “Little James” raises his concern about having been given the ability to heal while not having been healed of his disability by Jesus. In a shortened explanation, Jesus explains to “Little James” that he has not healed him for a purpose. That purpose emphasizes the faith and belief that “Little James” has in the Messiah despite his disability. Jesus has done this to increase the effectiveness of his testimony and preaching to the people he will be addressing in his lifetime.
Now that we have presented this example, I can offer why I identify with the “Little James” character.
Since early childhood, I have suffered a disability, which is currently no earthly cure. Still, I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and healing, but I am also a firm believer in God’s providence.
What is Providence?
Providence is the governance of God. In this governance, He knows and has control of all things, and in those things, everything has his purpose.
Some have noticed that I grow uncomfortable when they pray over me for healing or mention my need to be healed. My discomfort is not because healing isn’t welcome or because I do not wish to be healed. Instead, my discomfort comes because I have grown my faith and testimony over top of my disability. My struggle strengthens my faith; I face the rehabilitation, daily routines of care, and bad days so that I can perform ministry and testify to that faith I hold. Yet, not having that connection would seem foreign to me after all these years. But, of course, if it is the Lord’s will, I will accept healing with joy and praise.
The Apostle Paul had a similar situation, and in these scriptures, I have always found strength,
7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)
This topic touches on unanswered prayers we discussed in a previous episode. God sometimes does not give us the answers we want but provides the solutions we need; sometimes, that answer is no, but with reason. But even when God does not heal us, take our pain, or give us what we want, it strengthens our faith, not weaken it. So have faith and use your struggles to glorify God. Remember that the pain and struggle we face here on Earth will be rewarded in heaven if we follow God’s providence with faith and commitment.