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21st November: Faith

Jesus answered `How little faith you have!' Mt 8:26 (GNB)

I used to feel puzzled and (I admit) resentful at times when Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith. After all (I thought) it is fair enough to be angry with them for their greed or selfishness, or their lack of care about others. But why be cross simply because they couldn't quite work up enough belief that he was going to do something fantastic? Later, it made more sense to me. I began to realise that if people won't trust Jesus, they simply pull out the power plug, and he can't do anything for them. Maybe his anger with them arose from a mixture of deep love and concern with frustration that they could not believe him.

However we look at it, we shan't achieve anything today without faith in Christ. The first two verses of Hebrews 11 tells us: `To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. It was by their faith that people of ancient times won God's approval' (GNB).

`But', we say, `this is a real bind. I'm happy with patients and colleagues and text books and scalpels and needles: things I can see, and touch and handle. Why do I have to keep on thinking about things I can't see, and telling myself that my Best Friend is at my elbow when I can't see him?' There is no glib answer to that one. But it may help us to remember that the only alternative to faith is sight. If God, and all the eternal spiritual verities were visible and accessible, our pilgrimage on this earth would be over. And the other important point is that it brings a special pleasure to God when we can trust him without having to see him. Maybe this kind of trust is a small fragment of the worship of God for which we were created.

Today, all kinds of things may happen which would suggest to us that we ought to give up our faith and that we have got everything wrong. But (paradoxically) this is exactly the moment when we must stand firm. We take the shield of faith -- with which we are able to withstand all the fiery darts of Satan -- and, having done all, we stand. And as we pause, soaked in the spiritual sweat of struggling to hold on to Jesus even though he seems a thousand miles away, we hear him whisper the encouraging words `I am with you always to the close of the age'.

Lord Jesus, I wish it were easier to trust you all the time.
Please strengthen my faith today
and help me to know you are always with me when I don't feel it.

Further reading: Jn 20:26-29. 2 Cor 4:16-18. Heb 11.


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