“O you of little faith.”
These words were quite frequently used by the Lord Jesus while teaching and speaking with the disciples during critical moments of their recorded time together. (Matthew 6:30, Matthew 8:26, Matthew 14:31, Matthew 16:8, Luke 12:28) I can only imagine how many times I would have those words spoken to me by my Savior if He was to audibly speak to me as my circumstances cause me to stumble in faith on a daily basis.
When God’s word says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) it is in essence saying that faith gives us a confidence trust in God and His promises for us. This should also give an assurance in our heart for the ultimate outcome of our lives as we follow Jesus. However there is clearly a difference between knowing the path and walking the path isn’t there?
Consider Peter, one of the great Apostles of the faith:
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” – (Luke 22:31-24)
Here we have a man, personally chosen by Jesus Christ to be His disciple, given an opportunity to walk by His side day after day and not only benefit from an intimate personal relationship with Jesus constantly revealing truths and revelations about God and God’s kingdom, but also witnessing first hand miracle after miracle, yet he is being told by Jesus Himself that he will deny the One he just said he would die for!
Jesus healed his mother-in-law and countless others, he saw Him feed the multitudes, calm the sea and even briefly walked on the water with Him, yet he stumbled in his faith. He had already boldly confessed Jesus’s identity as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Despite all these incredible things here we have Peter saying he would do one thing and Jesus in His divine omniscience saying he will do another. Wow.
One commonly used excuse/rationalization for not having faith is the proclamation that “If God would just physically reveal Himself to me, I would believe and follow Him.” Or some variation of this idea. Countless people profess the need for a dramatic reveal of God personally for them to follow and obey Him, yet ignore the realities that even those who spent years with Him in the flesh still doubted, and they forget Christ’s reply to their unbelief: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
What is the takeaway from all of this? Well knowing everything Peter was a witness to and experienced with Jesus, if he still stumbled in his faith, maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we stumble in ours. I’m not talking about an excuse to sin or a rationalization to be a faithless sinner full of doubt, disobedience and unbelief. No, I’m just speaking of owning the truth, realizing our own weakness and leaning in to God for more of His grace, mercy and love. When we relate to God correctly we gain the peace he gives to us (John 14:27) and our faith is strengthened and can practically help us in those times we normally lose the battle to stress, anxiety and fear.
“Reflecting His peace is proof that you are right with God, because you are exhibiting the freedom to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. Allowing anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you either causes you to become troubled or gives you a false sense of security.
With regard to the problem that is pressing in on you right now, are you “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious blessing of peace exhibited in and through you. But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get. We become troubled because we have not been taking Him into account.” – Oswald Chambers
We all sin, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and we all stumble in our faith at times. Let us hear the Spirit’s voice when we are being called out for our “little faith” and not recoil in shame and guilt, but press in to God for the power to overcome, realizing that the author and finisher of our faith is the only One who can strengthen it.