When you hear the word “faith” what comes to mind? What are the associations you think of? We have faith in our cars that they will get us to work. We have faith in the relationships of our lives that sustain us and give our lives meaning. We have faith in God who is the foundation of all that we do, or do we? Are we like the Apostles in today’s gospel, who find that they feel a bit deficient in their faith in God?
Faith is something we either have or do not have. We may not have faith in our car, because of a history of car problems. We may not have faith in relationships, because we have been hurt by certain people. We may not have faith in God due to what has happened to us or the situation of the world around us. We may be like Habakkuk and not see God active and say, “Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord” (1: 3). Certainly this is something Jesus experienced on the cross when he cried out, “My God, why have you abandoned me?” The response God gives Habakkuk is that He is with us, and is active, just not in the way we may want or on the timetable we expect. God asks us to “wait for it,” for the fulfillment we seek in life and to be patient if we feel like God’s action is delayed.
Faith is a patient waiting on God, believing and hoping that God will be there and will answer our pleas. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews tells us, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). But in today’s gospel, even the Apostles say to Jesus “increase our faith.” Their sense of their lack of faith may affirm our own sense that our faith is too small. Jesus replies that all you need is the tiniest bit of faith, faith the size of a mustard seed.
God’s work of preparing and forming us is slow work. Working through the obstacles that keep us from God takes time. If we just have the smallest bit of faith and patience, we will find that our faith can grow. It is our hope in what God can do in our lives and our trust in God’s love for us, that enables a patience that causes that growth in faith. Our trials and tribulations, ups and downs of life create the context and fabric of our lives and the place for God’s activity.
And so, we can ask ourselves, How do we measure our faith? Where do we cry out, due to a feeling of a lack of faith or a lack of God’s presence? How can we cultivate a patient trust in God that enables a long vision of life and faith in God’s presence along the journey?