In these times we are living in it is easy to lose faith, but I want to challenge you not to!
We live in times of uncertainty, political uncertainty, economic uncertainty, and even religious uncertainty, so I understand that it is challenging to keep the faith. It is hard to know who to trust, do we trust the government or the media? There are deep divisions in our country and the Church, so it can be challenging to know who to trust.
Jesus used parables when he taught. Parables are stories using familiar images to reveal truths to those listening or reading can understand. Jesus painted a picture, using words to explain a spiritual reality. The Hebrew and Aramaic word for parable also means “allegory,” “riddle,” or “proverb.” The images used in the parables come from everyday life od those listening. Those of us reading the parables today may struggle a bit with images, but we are not first century people, so we need to dig a little to find the meaning.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed appears in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and is a good illustration of why it is essential for us not to lose faith, even in these distressing times.
“Jesus said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.'” (Mark 4:30-32)
Alongside my driveway, I have a small garden that has some large plants in it. I do not always see these flowering plants because they are behind the cars in the driveway, but I know they are there. Two of these plants grew taller than I am and came from a ridiculously small seed. I am always amazed at the size of this plant, and it’s coming from such a tiny seed.
I have never seen a mustard seed, so I will take the word of Jesus that it is the “smallest of all seeds on earth.” I get what Jesus is saying here, faith starts small and grows, some years are good, and some years not so good it all depends on the conditions around us and how well we tend to our faith.
Further, in the Gospel of Mark is a story of a man who brings his son to Jesus for healing. The boy has seizures, and no one can help him. Jesus says to the man, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The man looks at Jesus and says, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus healed the man’s son even though the man had trouble believing. You see, Jesus said, “If you CAN believe.” All Jesus asks of us is that we try.
We are not required to believe all the time; we can doubt, question, walk away, change, rethink, and all the rest Jesus makes allowance for that. The bottom line is, do we have the capacity to believe, do we have the ability to have faith? If we do, all things are possible.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.