Faith is a curious thing. The Bible defines it as confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Well. That clears that right up now, doesn’t it? We talk a lot about having faith, but do any of us really truly understand it?
In my very limited understanding, faith is trusting in something unseen. Other than Moses, (and arguably Adam and Eve) none has ever seen the face of God and lived to tell the tale.
In the words of the song, “These Things Take Time” -by Sanctus Real,
“I want to know why you gave me eyes when faith is how I see.”
It’s true. The Bible tells us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Why? We cannot trust in the things we see. Our eyes play tricks on us. Our understanding of what we are seeing is often flawed. So the only way we gain true understanding of what is really going on is by having faith in an unseen God.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone tell someone else they needed more faith, then I’d have a whole lot of nickels.
“If you just believed in God more.”
“If you just trusted in God more.”
“If you just had enough faith…”
Then things would certainly turn out right. We would all get what we want.
But what is that really? What is right, after all? Can we really presume to know? Could we not surmise from Scripture that trials actually produce in us the faith we need to endure? (James 1:3) We always want our trials to end quickly, but it is through trials that character comes, that we learn to persevere.
And when we admonish someone to have more faith, how do we know when enough is enough faith to get God to do what they want him to do? I think it’s a harsh thing to tell someone in the midst of a crisis to just have more faith. Is there a chart somewhere? Somehow I have a hard time picturing God just sitting there, withholding what would be best for his kids, until their faith quotient measures up. That doesn’t describe his grace and mercy at all.
I think that’s why Jesus talked to his disciples about mustard seeds. Now I’ve never seen a mustard seed in person. But Google has it on good authority that the mustard seed is an itty bitty little thing. Barely a speck in the palm of a person’s hand. Negligible.
Still, a mustard seed’s worth of faith is just enough. For anything. Certainly Jesus felt it would have been enough faith for his disciples to have healed someone. (Matthew 17) So if we shouldn’t tell someone in crisis they just need more faith, what should we tell them?
I suggest to them to draw close. Dig in and draw close to God. The Bible tells us that if we will draw close to God, he will draw close to us (James 4:8). It doesn’t take a whole lot of faith to press in and get close to Jesus. When we get close we know him more; we understand more about who he is. And isn’t it true that we tend to have more faith in folks that we know better?
We like to judge for us and others what is good and what is not. Sometimes the trials we face are the very thing we need to get us to the place God wants us to be. We are not promised an easy life. In fact, we are promised trouble (John 16:33).
I know it’s hard to watch someone you love walk through a trial. We just wish they could do something to help themselves out of their pickle. We think if they just had more faith they would be delivered of this thing. But maybe deliverance is not what is best for them.
Sometimes in the walking through the trial we become that person we were intended to be all along. Sometimes without the trial, we would never have found the traction we needed to get us to that place of surrender and healing. To a place of intimate relationship with Jesus.