Experiencing the power of God does not make us immune to doubt. For the challenges that we have yet to overcome and the promises that we are waiting to see bloom, patience and faith can start to grow weary with time. For matters furthest from the heart, having faith can seem so simple – almost to the point of making us believe we are impenetrable.
In contrast, for those issues closest to our hearts – the ones most sensitive and secret in nature – trusting God to deliver can seem so far away. Even mustard seed faith can seem like a request too much – just take a look at Abraham. In Genesis 15, we learn of a promise that God made to Abraham, that he would bear an heir, from his own body (verse 4). The specific terms of this promise were important, because Abraham, who was childless at the time, thought Eliezer would be his heir. Abraham believed and trusted in God – but time passed, and Abraham and Sarah had no children of their own.
Abraham Laughed First
When God visited Abraham again, to remind him of this promise – years had passed. Sarah still had not had a child of her own. She even went as far as creating a back up plan with Abraham, to have her servant Hagar bear Abraham’s child so God’s promise could be fulfilled. God knew Abraham needed a reminder – that God wasn’t looking for human intervention to a spiritual promise. Abraham would have a child of his own with Sarah.
When God’s subsequent visit is often recounted, we hear about Sarah laughing at God’s promise because she was past the age of childbirth. Nevertheless, that was actually the third time God visited. On the second visit, it was actually Abraham who laughed first. (Genesis 17)
Abraham was so strong in his disbelief, that he countered God. He told God – I have Ishmael. And God, in love and mercy, told Abraham – thanks, but no thanks. Sarah is going to have a son, and that is how my promise to you will be fulfilled. Thankfully, God is not like us. He intended to keep His promise to Abraham, in spite of Abraham’s lack of faith. And when God came back again, for the third time to tell Abraham – it was Sarah who laughed. (Genesis 18)
Abraham and Sarah saw God’s power. They experienced His presence, and yet they still could not find Him capable of moving past human limitations for a matter so close to their hearts. Their actions are the perfect example of why Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Mustard seeds are so small – so why mustard seed faith? Because Jesus know that even mustard seed faith might be an amount too much.
Not even Mustard Seed Faith?
When faced with an idea that seemed too far outside the realm of possibilities, Abraham and Sarah had choices to make. It’s the same type of choice we have to make today when dealing with God. Do we choose to believe that God keeps His promises, even when time and emotion seem to dictate otherwise? Or do we choose to give into doubt, logical probabilities, and human rationale. The moment Abraham and Sarah thought hope to be too painful of a proposition, the instance their faith would not let them believe God was still capable, they let Satan win.
They brought God down to their level and re-imagined Him in the way we see humans – as flawed. The result? We end up seeing God the way Satan would have us see Him – as limited. We then believe our outcomes are limited and God’s promises may require human intervention. God came to Abraham three times, and yet the power of doubt was still so strong.
I don’t judge Abraham and Sarah for their disbelief. Their struggle is our struggle. We can believe in God and His power, and yet doubt His promises. It’s hard to comprehend that God operates outside of the realm of human possibilities, even if that’s why we go to Him. How ironic is it that when we pray, we are often seeking the impossible, and then when we go forward, we fear the impossible with remain so far out of reach.
This pattern of behavior is why mustard seed faith can seem like too big of a request. Time gives way to doubt. We hear the murmurings of others. We feel the judgement coming from all sides. We wonder if we’ve heard God correctly and we question the faith we have already stored up. Wanting to walk on water while fearing drowning will never allow us to take the first step. And when we do, if we let fear in our hearts, we will surely start to sink.
Living in Boldness
This dilemma of trust versus fear, is why God requires boldness from us. Faith the expands past human capacity takes boldness. In prayer, with our hearts turned towards God, our desires will become aligned with His and boldness will start to feel more comfortable, even if you’re standing alone. What we seek, in faith, we will receive. But even then, even in moments of greatness, we must actively fight for our faith to keep it strengthened and renewed.
Every morning when we arise, we have to hold onto the gratitude for what has been, as evidence of what could be… because doubt will come. Questions will arise and those around us will question what God has promised to us. In those moments, choose to be bold. No matter how painful, no matter how scared, no matter how impossible, keep choosing to have faith. Keep choosing to seek God, and in return, God will never stop seeking us. We are not alone. He is with us, and in mustard seed faith, we are with Him.
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