A few days ago we had a savage storm (aka – Arthur) go through our town and cause considerable damage. Trees were uprooted all over town and at least eight boats lost their mooring and beached. At the height of the storm my neighbour had a large tree fall on his house and it didn’t take us long, doing a quick drive around town, to determine my neighbor wasn’t the only person with a tree resting against his home.
Now imagine in the midst of this storm raging across the bay and around our town someone had walked out the door of their house and shouted into the wind, “be still.” Imagine that the storm actually stopped. One moment we had 70 mile an hour winds, debris flying through the air, branches falling and trees crashing to the ground, not to mention torrential downpours, and then the next moment complete calm and sunny skies.
When word got around, which it would in a small town, what would people think? Now Jesus tells us if we had the faith of a mustard seed, which is pretty small, we could move a mountain. We could say to the mountain, “move,” and it would move. Since I’m sure there is no one who can move a mountain, then it only stands to reason that even the spiritual giants amongst us have less faith than a mustard seed. That is to say we have, at best, a small faith when it comes to our spiritual walk with God.
In Luke 8 we read of a very unusual event that took place one stormy day on the Sea of Galilee. “One day Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, He fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.’ “ ( v. 22-25)
I’ve thought a great deal about this text and how it relates to faith. First of all it is very clear that Jesus has power over nature and by simply speaking, stops the storm. It is also clear that the disciples were frightened and sure they were going to drown. Also important to the story is that they knew what to do about their fear; they woke Jesus and poured out their distress. Jesus calms the storm by rebuking it, and lastly questions the disciples on their lack of faith.
We are not much different than the disciples. We become frightened when we believe that the storms of life are going to drown us in discouragement and fear. Yet, instead of rushing to Jesus as the disciples did, we somehow think we should be spiritual giants and fight the storms on our own. And when things don’t work out the way that we wish, we think our faith is weak or defective, or God doesn’t listen to us, or He isn’t interested in our problems. The bottom line is we end up blaming our puny faith for the situations we find ourselves in.
You and I are not called to calm the storm; we are to call on the one who can calm the storm. We are not inadequate Christians or defective spiritually because we are not giants of faith. The disciples knew their salvation that stormy day was in Jesus. We also need to take the storms and discouragements of our lives to Jesus. He is God; He has the power and the strength to do what we can’t.
So, if that’s true then why did Jesus say to the disciples, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were in the boat with Jesus. That should have been all the assurance they needed that they were going to be safe. He is not saying that they should have rebuked the storm, but instead is reminding them that He was with them and therefore they were going to survive the storm.
Instead of beating ourselves up over our failures or lack of faith when it comes to certain circumstances in our lives, just remember that Jesus is with us and He will see us through. The answer to our prayers is not dependent on how hard we pray but the assurance that God hears and answers prayers. It is true that faith grows in us as we mature as Christians but it is not faith in our own abilities that grows. Instead, it is faith in God’s ability.
God loves us unconditionally and that is sufficient. We are not accepted, judged or cast away based on our level of faith. We are saved by the grace of God that forgives and forgets the sins of all who would ask for forgiveness. His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross paid the penalty for those sins and in their place He freely gives the gift of eternal life. This is the truth that sets us free from guilt, legalism and fear. Yes, our faith may be small and shaky at times, but that never diminishes God’s love for us. Remember, our faith is in Jesus, not measured on whether we can calm the storm.