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I wish I had more faith!1 month ago
Chris Oldroyd helps us to think about what it means to live by faith in this long lockdown; faith that God is in control, faith for the long haul
I wonder how many of us have ever said “I wish I had more faith” when if we realised it we are already walking well in faith.
In this long period of lockdown we need faith – faith that God is in control, faith for the long haul, that we will emerge unscathed from the shrunken world of our four walls where days lack punctuation. A friend locked down at home with a large family emailed “I have found that this has had an impact on my spiritual life just going through the motions, and concentration levels seem to be reduced.” No surprise, and many may feel the same.
But we are already walking in great faith! We just need to understand more about faith. Let me explain.
I love the story of the ‘paralytic’ man in Mark 2. His friends tried every way to get him in front of Jesus. The crowds inside were right up to the door so they tried the back door (my imagination)… just the same. “Let’s try the windows”…..no success. So they found some rope, carried him up to the roof, dismantled it and finally let him down at the feet of Jesus. What did He commend them for? Their faith. What had they done? They’d persevered. That’s faith! Jesus says it is.
A Syrophoenician woman came earnestly to the Lord (Mat 15).: “Lord, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demonic possession.” Jesus said nothing. Then a second time He took no action. And a third: “Lord, help me!” she pleaded, and again He resisted her: “I was sent to the Jews and not to you Gentiles”. “Yes, Lord” she said, “but even the little dogs under the table eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” “You have great faith! Your request is granted” He replied. What did He commend her for? Her faith. What had she done? She had persisted, persevered. That’s faith! Jesus said so.
Bartimaeus (Mk 10) cried out to the Lord with the same words. The crowd tried to silence him but “he shouted (lit: kept on shouting) all the more”. Eventually he was taken to Jesus but even then he had to wait. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. It was obvious but it prolonged the healing. “Rabbi, I want to SEE! (can’t you imagine him shouting that last word!). “Go” said Jesus “your faith has healed you.” Jesus commended him for his faith because he had persisted.
In His parable about not giving up (Lk 18) Jesus told of a widow who kept coming to the local magistrate asking him for judgement against an adversary, but he refused every time. Eventually he was worn out by her constant insistence and upheld her case. In describing the woman’s actions the tense of the word twice emphasises that she kept on and on addressing the judge. Jesus ends the parable by asking “When the Son of Man comes, will He find (Greek: the or that) faith on earth?” What did He commend her for? Her faith. What had she done? She had persevered. That’s faith! Jesus says it is.
The New Testament is laden with exhortations to persevere, endure, abide, continue, persist, be patient, and the result of doing so: the friend asking his neighbour at midnight (Lk 11) for food; the woman in Lk 15 who had lost her money; Jesus asking Peter to row out into the lake once again to fish even though he had been fishing that whole night.
The result? The paralysed friend walked, the Syrophoenician’s daughter was freed, Bartimaeus received his sight, the widow was given justice, the friend’s neighbour gave him food, the woman found her coins and Peter caught a surfeit of fish. They just persevered.
Many years ago when a very young Christian working in the City I met in a little church every lunchtime with a handful of wonderful men of God to pray, talk and worship. One of the songs we would sing was:
Jesus is a wonderful saviour - He will carry you through
Jesus is a wonderful saviour - He will carry tyou through.
Until the batle is done and the victory's won
My Lord will carry you through
During the last war Winston Churchill was invited to give a speech at a school’s prizegiving. He mounted the stage, looked steadily at the children and said “Never…..never….. never…..never….never give up” - then sat down.
We could call this week ‘Holy Spirit Week’ because we have just celebrated the power of God the Holy Spirit poured out upon us at Pentecost, the power to persevere. Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday when we remember God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My Benedictine friend and counsellor says “You are the fourth person of the Trinity”. I love that concept. We walk together – Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you. What a secure place to be. They know where we are going, how to get there and how long it will take - and we walk with them all the way.
We can all persevere.
Jesus says so.
Our Lord will carry us through!