It seems as though faith comes naturally to some people. In spite of their trials, their temptations, their hardships, or their circumstances, they seem to cheerfully submit to God’s will, praising his name continually as they suffer the worst life has to offer.
Then there is the rest of us.
We are the people who sometimes turn to the heavens in the midst of the fire, in the hurricane force winds or the rising flood waters and say aloud, “Really!?” Yet studies have shown that those with strong faith traditions tend to weather the traumas of life better than those without.
The question then becomes, ‘how?’ — how do you find faith in the midst of the disaster?
Faith is a Choice
In the 14th chapter of Matthew, Jesus has just fed the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes, and sent his disciples on ahead of him to cross the sea on a ship. In the dead of night, a storm blows up and begins to toss the ship on the angry water. Jesus begins to walk toward his disciples on the water to both calm them and continue their journey. When they first see Him, they aren’t quite sure what to make of Him until he calls out to them to let them know it’s Him. In verse 28, Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”
As soon as the Lord bids him to come, Peter hops out of the boat and begins to walk toward Jesus on top of the sea. Peter himself is performing a miracle under the direction of the Savior of the world.
But as he is walking on water, he starts to pay attention to what is going on around him. He sees the waves, the storm, the wind. He starts to realize the danger he has put himself in. He chooses fear over faith and begins to sink. Just when it all seems lost, Peter remembers who he is with and what Jesus is capable of. In verse 30 he calls out, “Lord, save me!”
Ever loving, ever and ever merciful, Jesus immediately “stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Peter’s initial choice was one of faith. When that faith began to falter, he again had to choose faith to call out to the Lord to save him. We may have to choose faith again and again and again in the midst of our pain, but Jesus, in His mercy, will always immediately stretch forth His hand and catch us.
Faith is a Verb
The word “faith” is a translation of the Greek verb “pisteuō”. Paul’s teachings throughout the Bible reflect the idea that faith is not something we have, but it is something we do. It is manifested in our obedience to God’s commandments, our study of God’s word and our actions toward our fellow man. Sure, we can kneel and pray to have faith, but once that prayer is done, we must go and do according to the knowledge we receive.
The active process of serving and obeying is what drives so many people out to ferry stranded neighbors after floods or much out homes in their community after hurricanes.
One study from Baylor University found that congregations provide four times as much service to community members outside of their faith than they do to people within their own congregation. Nearly 60% of the people that served in these groups had changes in their attitudes about the people they worked with during community ministries. In other words, active service can alter your mindset and strengthen your faith.
Faith is a Practice
No one expects to do a triple back flip, play a piano concerto, hold a yoga pose or run a marathon without a whole lot of practice. So why do we expect our faith to suddenly appear, especially when we are under stress?
We, like Peter, may have days when we hop out of the boat and walk on water and others when we despair about our surroundings and sink below the surface of the stormy sea. It is important to remember that practice makes perfect and perfect faith can work miracles in us.
~ 1776 Christian