Nothing there, not even a mustard seed! Nothing to work with! If faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Heb 11:1) a person of no faith has no hope or certainty whatsoever.
We always think that “no faith” refers to unbelievers: people who have not acknowledged Jesus’ death on the cross as provision for their sin. But believers also suffer from “no faith” when you consider how many say that they believe, but no faith is demonstrated in times of difficulty in their lives.
I have been fascinated by the account of the disciples caught in the storm while Jesus is sleeping in the boat in Mark 4:35-41. They had a busy day; they had seen many miracles and heard Jesus’ teaching on the Four Soils of the heart and His thoughts on faith, the size of a mustard seed. At the end of the day, Jesus had instructed that they go to the other side and then went to sleep on a cushion, in the stern.
A storm comes up, that is so terrifying that these hardened fisherman fear for their lives and wake Jesus up saying: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” The interesting thing is that:
- They had Jesus in the boat with them, His very presence was with them.
- They knew who He was, that He was the Son of God, the Messiah
- They had seen his power to heal, do miracles.
- They knew He had plans for the future, that He planned to get to the other side…
Yet these men did not believe despite all of this, fearing instead that they would drown. Oh, they had faith before they got into the boat, but by the time they woke Jesus, their faith had drowned.
Jesus scolds them: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
No faith, nada! Not even a bit of faith. Despite knowing Jesus, having previously seen His power, knowing His plans for them and having His very presence with them in their storm, these disciples and sadly, many believers in a storm, have NO faith. The disciples (and we) had lost our faith, even in God, while living in our circumstances. With that, ended our hope.
What happened in the minds of the disciples during the storm? What could happens to us in the middle of a storm that causes us to abandon all hope?
- We visualize in our minds eye the problem being bigger than our God.
- We calculate in our minds the probabilities and then conclude impossibilities with our human logic.
We demonstrate no faith, when we forget that our God is Sovereign God, bigger than all our circumstances, and that nothing is impossible for God.
When we allow our minds eye to picture our defeat, rather than our victory with God, we erode our faith. When we start to use our human reasoning to calculate the probability of what is going to happen in our lives and lay parallel with that, that which is impossible by human reasoning, we erode our faith.
We find that the little faith that we may have, even if it was just a small mustard seed, becomes NO faith.
God responds to our faith. Jesus left his hometown in Matt 13:58 because they had “no faith.” They looked at Him as merely a man and calculated in their minds the probability of Jesus being the Messiah and concluded that being the Messiah was impossible for a carpenter. Jesus recognized “no faith” and scripture is clear “he only did a few miracles because they had no faith.” There was no faith for Jesus to respond to.
Jesus rebuked the disciples for “no faith” and later in Mark 16:14, after Jesus death, when the two returned telling the unbelieving eleven that they had seen Jesus, He spoke firmly to them “because they had no faith.” Faith pleases God, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), and where there is “no faith”, God does not respond and few miracles happen.
In storm seasons of our lives, we need to maintain our faith and grow it and we do this by refreshing our faith in the Word. Rom 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” We remind ourselves continually that it is God Almighty in the boat with us and we picture our ultimate victory through Him. When we apply our human reasoning to the situation and calculate probabilities, we set ourselves up to erode our faith.
Suffered from “no faith” lately?
- Human reasoning and the calculation of probabilities based on what we observe and know can erode our faith. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
- Do you believe that Jesus is present in your life? Have you seen evidence of His goodness in your life? Do you know his ability to change your life completely? Are you convinced He has plans for your future? Is Jesus in the boat of your life?
- Has your faith drowned in circumstances and events which you thought you knew how to handle at the time (these were hardened fishermen)?
- Do you believe that even your little faith can eventually erode to ‘no faith’? Where have you seen this in your life, or in someone else’s life?
Father, forgive me for the times I do not practice focusing on Your Sovereignty and instead use my own mind and reasoning to calculate the probabilities of my overcoming my circumstances and weaknesses. You control the wind and the waves, you can do the impossible, You are present with me in my life boat, I have no reason to fear. I declare that I do not picture my defeat in the storms of my life, but instead I look to Jesus who is coming across the waters and is with me, to intervene in my life.
I could easily identify with moments in my life where my own reasoning and calculation of probabilities and left me in a situation that I am convinced is impossible for God to fix. I may willingly confess to others that Jesus has a plan for their life and that I trust Him to work in all things. But the reality is that in some areas I have faith, but then, there will be this one area of sorrow, or defeat in my life, where there is no faith. It reminds me of that song: “God will make a way, where there is no other way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side, with love and strength for each new day, He will make a way.” (Don Moen)
The truth is that there is always a way forward with God.
The most important lesson I learnt here, was to watch out for my own reasoning and calculations, especially in my areas of strength (a hardened fisherman). Sometimes the very areas of strength I have, become the areas of weakness when it comes to my faith. For example, I am very good at analysis and logical reasoning, I consider it a real gifted ability, but when I apply that some strength in areas where faith is required, it erodes my faith completely and becomes my area of weakness.
It is possible for me to start out in faith and confidence in the Lord and have that erode down to nothing.
That faith needs to be maintained and kept up, reminding myself constantly of the Lord’s presence in my life. Even Abraham (the father of faith) would have needed to work at maintaining his faith. He had to actively refuse to look at the limitations within himself and Sarah, and actively work at not putting limitations on what God could do. Rom 4:18-21 says that Abraham “against all hope” believed in hope… It says that “without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead...” YET, “he did not waver in his faith” BUT “was strengthened in his faith” Abraham had to work against the weakening of his faith, despite facts, choosing not to doubt God, but choosing to strengthen his faith by being “fully persuaded that God had the power.”
If the great ones of faith has to work at it, why not me?