. . . For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.—Matthew 17:20
In the face of trials, we pray for God’s favor, aka a resolution that fits nicely in our happily-ever-after scenario filled with unicorns and rainbows and endless supplies of dark chocolate. When God answers in the way we asked, we high-five ourselves and credit our faith that moves mountains. And when He doesn’t, we find ourselves questioning our faith.
But in both cases, our faith is misplaced, because our faith is in our faith, not in the God who should be the object of our faith.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It’s also absolutely true that God can remain inactive in the face of faithlessness. (See this example from Mark 6.)
But it’s also true that God doesn’t set the bar high on our faith, as the parable of the mustard seed shows. Our faith doesn’t have to be strong. Our God has to be strong.
I think of the father who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and begged His help.
“But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”—Mark 9:22-24
The father confessed his faltering faith, and Jesus acted both because of and despite it. God knows our frailties. He knows our every thought. Nothing surprises Him. All He asks for is that tiny grain of faith.
When your prayers aren’t answered in the way you had hoped, He asks you to hold on to that tiny grain of faith. When people you love suffer and die, hold on to that tiny grain of faith. When all hope seems lost, hold on to that tiny grain of faith. And if your faith remains weak, ask—as the father asked Jesus—to increase your faith. (See Ephesians 2:8-9, Luke 17:5.)
Maybe the mountains that need moving are within your own heart. Or maybe the Lord is using your circumstances to move mountains in the hearts or lives of people around you.
Either way, you can be confident He is working for your good and His glory. You can also be confident you’re not walking through your valley alone.
Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.—Hebrews 7:25
Through your trials, He will complete the good work He has begun in you until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). And through it all, your faith—and you—will be perfected.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.—Hebrews 12:1-2