When Faith Falters
I wrote the following several months ago, for a women’s retreat at our church. But I’ve been thinking about it again and again since then. I’ve said it here a few times, how grateful I am that God’s faithfulness doesn’t depend on our ability to have faith. We keep thinking that He’s waiting on our faith to invite Him to be faithful. Could it be instead that His faithfulness is our invitation to faith? That the reality of His trustworthiness is an invitation for us to trust?
May we glimpse His faithfulness today, in our real and normal lives. And may that faithfulness tilt us toward trust in a way that we haven’t known before.
A few facts for you this Wednesday:
- The gravitational pull of the earth is 9.8m/s2.
- A tripod cannot wobble. It can fall over, but it cannot be unsteady the way a four-legged stool or table can.
- Ants are, proportionally speaking, stronger than you. They can carry 10-50 times their own body weight.
- Google and smart phones have made persuasive arguing basically irrelevant.
Here’s the thing about the facts above. They are true regardless of whether you believe me, whether you understand why, and whether you cared to know. Your belief or disbelief does nothing to affect the fact.
And yet, we approach belief in God as though so much is riding on us. We look to God and think that His faithfulness is somehow dependent on our ability to have faith.
I do not intend to demean or belittle belief. It is huge. But what if we approach Him differently this time? What if we don’t come with our hands clasped around the things we believe? What if we don’t look down to rifle through the faith we clutch? What if, instead, we come with arms reaching up like a child, looking to the One in whom we believe? What if we come with empty hands reaching for the hand of the One whose grip is sure (John 10:28-29)?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, beheld the face of God in a way that no one else ever will. She looked into the puckered lips of her newborn, and she saw the mouth that had spoken the world into being. She wiped the skinned knee of her toddler, and the blood that would be shed for us stained her palms. She reached toward Him as He took His first, stumbling steps into her arms. He spoke His first, rambling words, and Mary heard the voice of God.
God came down as a fragile child, and His mother watched Him become a Man.
What must it have been like? To be the girl who was blessed to believe all that the Lord had spoken to her (Luke 1:45)? To become the mother of God and to treasure up all those things in her heart (Luke 2:19)? To raise the Son of God, and to ponder all that she saw of Him (Luke 2:51)?
To stare into the face of God, and find her faith not in the things she could explain or understand, but in the One that she beheld.
God is good, and He does good. God is faithful. He is near. He is holy. He is powerful. But His ways are not our ways, and sometimes we’re left wondering in His wake. Sometimes we’re left reeling to sort through what we thought we knew.
After all, Mary found herself weeping at the foot of the cross. She watched her beaten and battered Son die the most painful of deaths. And she knew what she knew of her God, but I wonder if she wondered.
Sometimes our faith falters, and we wonder if the Faithful One has faltered too.
And then we remember that we can “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). We remember that He isn’t made secure by our faith. We remember that He is all that He is regardless of what we believe.
Just like gravity. And tripods. And the strength of ants.
But there is still this holy invitation to believe Him. And I wonder if maybe faith has gotten twisted somewhere along the way.
What if Mary’s faith wasn’t evident in her ability to understand the cross or even in her ability to accept it? What if her faith was most evident in the simple act of shifting her gaze up toward the One she knew and loved even in the midst of what she could not comprehend?
What if our faith isn’t our ability to conjure up the right feelings or recite the right facts? What if our faith is the simple act of lifting of our eyes up to Our God?
What if faith looks more like trust and less like understanding?
But we will only trust One we know. And He knows that.
And what if…what if He’s willing? What if the One who sees and knows and loves is willing to be seen and known and loved?
What if we come expectant—not searching for our faith but searching instead for the Faithful One?
What if, regardless of the mess or the beauty in which we find ourselves, we shift our eyes heavenward and believe?
Not because our faith is mighty—but because our God is.