Thought for the Week – Sunday 9th August 2020
What Does Having Faith Mean To You?
“Oh ye of little faith” is a phrase I have used and heard many times in everyday life, most commonly used by myself as a means of expressing absolute certainty whilst in the presence of someone displaying more than a little uncertainty towards me. On reflection as to why I say it, well I have to be honest and say that I now realise that it is a sort of rebuke, a pointed remark for not showing a little more faith in who I am and what I can achieve.
Reading today’s Gospel account from Mathew, I do wonder if Jesus is using it in the same manner towards Peter. After all this is not the first time Peter has seen Jesus controlling both wind and sea whilst in a boat and of course he has also just been a witness to the feeding of the 5,000, so not really sure what more Peter needs to have a complete faith in Jesus?
That word ‘faith’ though, can have many differing meanings and interpretations depending on who you are talking to and so this relatively small word begins to represent a hugely complex and deeply personal meaning for the individual using it.
I looked up the dictionary meaning of the word faith and interestingly found it had been referenced for both secular and religious use
Faith – a complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Faith – a strong belief based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
Now this got me thinking as to which of these definitions best fits with Peter stepping out of the boat and onto the water? Well of course we would like to think it’s the second one but if that were so, why then having stepped out onto the water upon Jesus’ command, did he begin to fear the wind and simply sink? How was his spiritual conviction in Jesus so easily undone by a moment of doubt? Perhaps this was Jesus’ intention all along that Peter should experience exactly what doubt can do to faith, so that he too would understand when he saw it in others and so respond as Jesus did and offer a hand to raise them back up again.
Peter’s faith it would seem, lay in the proven qualities of the boat to keep him safe because we can usually establish a complete trust in that which we can see, feel and experience, it’s how we learn and how we survive. Spiritual trust is a bit more of a challenge, metaphorically it’s a bit like stepping over the side of the boat as Peter did and into something that your rational mind is screaming at you “this cannot be real, cannot be done and so should not be trusted”!
The lesson to be learned from Peter’s experience, is to remain resolutely focussed on Jesus as we move towards him through life, for if we take our gaze away from him even for a moment as Peter did, then we too are destined to be overwhelmed by and lost to one of life’s storms.
What I choose to see in Peter’s moment of doubt, is his humanity exposed for me to connect to, that in his journey with Jesus, even with all that he had witnessed, he too was capable of doubting the divine proof of Jesus as the Son of God and perhaps even the expected irrefutable existence of God himself. If somebody like Peter can have moments of spiritual uncertainty, then surely it has to be something that we too are culpable of experiencing on our own personal journey with Christ, if so then let’s not feel guilty or unworthy for doing so, for it also serves to remind us that we are human in our imperfection and importantly that the love and grace of God is unconditional beyond our understanding, we are forgiven.
“Faith talks in the language of God. Doubt talks in the language of man.”
– E.W. Kenyon (Baptist Pastor)
A Prayer for the Week.
Into your Hand, I place my worries, cares and troubles.
Into your Wisdom, I place my path, my direction and my goal.
Into your Love, I place my life.
And now Lord we lift Arthur to you in Prayer,
We thank you for his life
And ask you to bless his family at this difficult time.
We ask your blessing on all those in need
And seeking your comfort
In Jesus’ name we ask it. Amen