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Monday, January 21, 2013

Faith

Unbelief. Doubt. Fear. Worry. 

Who hasn't experienced these things? Some days I get all of them, all at the same time. That desire to simply curl up in a ball under the covers and disappear can be overwhelming, but I am learning to seek God when those moments come upon me.

During one of those times, I began reading through the book of Matthew. I came upon the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus rebukes his followers for their lack of faith: "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Lacking in faith brings on worry. My worry about things: food, shelter, clothing, family, and the future, all demonstrate my lack of faith. Jesus says, "Don't worry. I am here. Have faith."

Knowing there were other places where Jesus used the words, "ye of little faith," I went on a search. I found three other times when Jesus used that phrase and each time he matches lacking faith with a command. As I found in Matthew 6, we are commanded to not worry. The next place is in Mark 4 (also in Matthew 8). 

Jesus and the disciples are in their boat when a storm comes up out of nowhere. Jesus is asleep and the disciples are afraid. They wake Jesus with an accusation, "Don't you care?"  I have shouted the same question at God in my frustration, panic and fear. All I can hear are the swirling winds of doubt and fear. I get tunnel vision and can't see beyond the storm that is raging. 

The disciples are afraid. The waves are crashing over the boat. The wind is tearing at them. They are probably soaking wet and feverishly working to keep their boat afloat. Jesus' response to their demand is to dispel the storm and calm the sea. He asks the disciples where is their faith? In essence he is saying, "Don't be afraid, I am here. Have faith."

Matthew 14 is the third place where I found the phrase, "you of little faith". Of the many passages of the Bible that I love, this one is near the top. I could probably write a whole post just about this one section. (Maybe another day) This passage is about Peter. I love to read about Peter. I am rather like him, I think. He tries so hard to do and say the right things, but usually ends up being corrected, rebuked, or seriously regretting his words and actions. It gives me hope that Jesus says, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

In Matthew chapter 14, Jesus is walking on the water towards the disciples who are in their boat. Peter requests that Jesus prove it is him by calling Peter to walk on the water too. Jesus obliges his request and Peter steps out of the boat, onto the waves. Peter looks around at the waves and wind, instantly regretting his request. (that whole "Be careful what you pray for, you might just get it") Peter cries out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus does. (there's a whole sermon right there!) Jesus says to Peter, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Basically, Jesus is saying, "Don't doubt, I am here. Have faith."

The last place I found is in Matthew 16 (also found in Mark 8). Jesus and the disciples have just crossed the water, when the disciples realize they haven't brought any bread. Jesus' response is a teaching about the Saduccees and Pharisees. The disciples are confused and try to reason it out for themselves. Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith and admonishes them to "remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?" 

In those times when I am confused, when I just don't understand what God is doing, when I can't make sense of the world around me, I need to remember. I must remember those times when I saw God's hand in my life. Remember when God answered my prayers in such a profound way, that I could know for sure He was in control. Remember those moments when God provided "just enough" at "just the right time". Jesus is telling me, "Don't lean on your own understanding. Remember, I am here. Have faith."

On those days when I feel overwhlemed and my faith is even smaller than a mustard seed, I will not worry. I will not be afraid. I will not doubt. I will remember. 
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