Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Big Faith?

As I continue to wrestle through my friend's loss of their 6 month old baby, I was struck by a comment that I saw on Facebook.  It had to do with faith being restored and it really made me think.  How do we restore our faith when it seems that we've lost it?  How do regain something that we know that we once had yet has seemed to wane?

Over the last few days, I've been drawn to Matthew 17, 18, and 19.  Jesus has many interactions in these chapters with children.  In chapter 17, Jesus heals a boy who is demon-possessed.  In chapter 18, Jesus invites a little child to stand before him and explains that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who become like little children.  In chapter 19, Jesus' disciples get a little testy when little children are brought before him.  But Jesus says to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

I have always been struck by the parallel passage of the demon-possessed boy of Matthew 17 in Mark 9 because of the difference in what Mark records there.  When the father brings his son and Jesus begins to ask him questions, the father says, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."  Jesus' answer comes across a little brash as he reiterates the man's words and repeats, "'If you can'?"  He goes on to say that everything is possible for him who believes.  The father's answer, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

I can't even begin to recount how many times over the last few years that I have had to go back to this passage.  I've said or prayed the phrase, "I believe but help my unbelief" so many times that it's hard to count.  But Matthew's account of this story is an encouragement to me and should be to all whose faith seems insignificant and small.  Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, 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."

Once upon a time, I preached a sermon on this passage and I remember handing out mustard seeds to the congregation.  If you've never seen one before, you can see them in the picture here.  They are fairly small and insignificant, but elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus talks about how small they are and yet they grow to be fairly large trees (Matthew 13).

The thing is, that's all that we need, just a small amount of faith.  There are times that people might look at me and think that my faith is so large, and yet I feel that it's equivalent to the size of a mustard seed.  And Jesus says that's all that we need, because faith grows.  It might start small and insignificant, but over time, it grows and flourishes if it's fed and nurtured.

It's hard to muster up faith in the midst of trial and tragedy, but all that we need is a mustard seed's worth.  God can take that small seed and grow it into something magnificent.  We might believe and still feel overwhelmed with unbelief, but God can handle that, He can meet us there and handle those doubts, those questions, and that unbelief.

Where's your faith?  How big does it seem to you?  You don't need much, only a mustard seed's worth, and it can grow.  Mine has felt insignificant and small many times in my life, but it can always be restored, somehow, some way.

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