Rev. Dr. Scott D. Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
“Lord, increase our faith!” the apostles begged of Jesus.
Increase our faith.
As I read the disciples’ request it struck a chord in my heart. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. And I know many of you have too.
There are many points in life when we, like the original apostles, find ourselves crying to the LORD: increase my faith. There are inevitably – for all of us – times of doubt, struggle, and confusion. There are times when hope, peace, understanding, and confidence seem scarce.
When we are confronted with death we may cry: Lord, increase my faith.
In the midst of a storm we lament: Lord, increase my faith.
Surrounded by nonsensical violence, anger, and hatred, we beg: Lord, increase my faith
In times of struggle and sacrifice, when we are worn down by worry, we whisper: Lord, increase my faith.
When our loved ones or we struggle with depression, addiction, and anxiety, or find ourselves/themselves battling cancer, illness, or dementia, we plead: Lord, increase our faith.
There are times when it seems like we don’t have enough,
And there are times when it seems like we aren’t enough.
In the verses that precede the apostles’ request to acquire some more faith Jesus preps them for life as disciples. He says that there are many stumbling blocks in this world – there are many things that trip us up. He warns them to be careful not to put stumbling blocks in front of others. And then he says, “Forgive. Often. Unceasingly. Nonsensically. Frequently. Forgive.” (See Luke 16:1-5).
To which they cry out: Lord, increase our faith!
This text in its entirety reminds us that the times we need faith aren’t just the big moments, but the daily ones. Faith doesn’t just help us get through the storm; it helps us live before and after. Faith isn’t just about working miracles, but working through the mundane.
And the good news is when the apostles ask Jesus for more faith, he replies by saying even the smallest bit – faith the size of a mustard seed – is enough. So often we feel like we’re running low on faith. We struggle to trust. We beat ourselves up for doubting. In this text, however, we are encouraged. Seed-like faith – not tree-like faith or forest-like faith – is more than enough.
If you have ever begged God for more faith be encouraged by the fact that that simple request is in and of itself an expression of mustard seed faith. That prayer is the seed through which God’s Spirit intercedes. And that faith will help you encounter death and hold onto the promise of new life. It will help you find peace in the midst of the storm. It will help you counter nonsensical violence, anger, and hatred with love. It will help you hold onto hope even in time of strife, struggle, and sacrifice. And, it will even help you find the courage to forgive – often, unceasingly, nonsensically, and frequently.
Oh, and that faith will help you to endure all that you are going through right now.
Keep the faith, my brothers and sisters. No matter how small it may seem. Discover the power of life, peace, love, and hope not totally replacing but ever-present even in the midst of doubt and despair.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.