Within the Church, the word ‘faith’ is thrown around pretty often. We are told to have faith for provision when we are facing financial pressures. We need faith to be healed when our Oncologist calls with bad news. We need faith that our families will be reconciled after years of brokenness.
And maybe it’s just me, but I feel this weight of responsibility that if I don’t have faith, then my prayers are not going to be answered. People tell you to have faith because that pleases God (Hebrew 11:6), but how do you have faith when, quite frankly, you’re struggling to trust God?
There are times in our faith journeys when we are holding on to a thread of hope that God is going to answer us. We live in such a broken world surrounded by rejection, death, and disappointment that it can become difficult to believe God will answer us. Honestly, it can get exhausting to muster up any ounce of faith.
I was recently reading Hebrews 11, the chapter of the bible that explores the faith of the Old Testament heroes. Noah had faith to be ridiculed and yet build an ark (v7), Abraham had faith to leave his home (v8), Sarah had faith to birth Isaac when she was in her nineties (v11), and Moses had faith to cross the Red Sea (v29). As you study the lives of these people, they all had moments of disbelief and struggle, but as I read this passage, I initially felt pressure to have some kind of colossal faith. I mean, their faith must have been MASSIVE, like the size of an ocean, to see all that they saw in their lives. And you know what, sometimes my faith seems to be more like the size of a small puddle.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Hmmmm, just the faith of a mustard seed? This seems like a stark contrast to what we read in Hebrews 11 because I assume that Noah, Abraham, and Moses had a lot more faith than me!
Matthew 25 gives us another perspective on faith. You may be familiar with the story - Jesus describes three different people who were given a certain number of ‘talents’ by their boss before he went on a journey. One was given five talents, another two talents, and another was given one talent. The five-talent guy went away, took a risk, invested his talents, and made another five talents. Likewise, the two-talent guy went away, took a risk, invested his talents, and made another two talents. But the one-talent guy played it safe, and just buried his talent to make sure he wouldn’t lose what little he had. The first two guys were rewarded and described as, “good and faithful”, but the one-talent guy, who said he was afraid that he would lose his one talent, was punished for being wicked and lazy.
In our messed-up world, too often we behave like the one-talent guy. It’s not that we feel like we are being lazy, but we are paralyzed into self-preservation. To step out, to be vulnerable, to have faith seems too risky. So we bury all that we have in order to play it safe. You were fired, so why have faith that you will have another fulfilling job? Your parents divorced when you were a child, so why trust that God will give to you a faithful spouse? You miscarried multiple children, so why risk believing you can be a mum when you are still grieving the loss of your babies?
As tempting as it is to compare ourselves to spiritual greats, the truth is that God honors our small steps of faith. Yes, Noah, Abraham, and Moses accomplished huge things, but they also wrestled with their own fears. These heroes kept putting one foot in front of another and did not stop trusting God. And God came through for them because He honored that mustard seed faith that seemed almost insignificant.
God is pleased when we step out just a tiny bit. And for each one of us, the step looks oh so different. For some who have lost jobs, sending out resumes feels like you are baring your soul for all to see. For those feeling lonely and rejected, Facebooking an acquaintance and inviting them for coffee is terrifying. Your step, your faith will be manifested in an unique way, but never discount the courage it has taken for you to get out of your comfort zone and dare to believe that God will come through for you.
You’ve got what it takes. You have the faith of [insert your name here]. And when you choose to step out, when you choose to believe God over your fears, your doubts, and insecurities, you will see that you can move mountains. It just takes one tiny step.