A friend of mine, P, told me she had a friend, D, who was very depressed. D said she couldn’t have faith in God, because her circumstances were so bad. P asked me – “What do you say to someone who says they don’t have the strength to have faith?”
My response was that having faith was not necessarily a very difficult thing to do. We imagine that if we are to have faith, it would be like having to manufacture a hugely positive feeling that is as big as a mountain.
But Jesus tells us that having faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
A mustard seed is only as big as a dot and for faith to work miracles, all we need is just a spark of faith that can be blown into a huge fire by God. Faith in this case can be seen as not difficult to have, it is just a small step of trusting in God, of taking eyes off your difficult circumstances and trusting that the all-powerful God loves you, will rescue you and will take care of you.
The crucial truth we have to come to understand is that mighty things happen not according to the quantity of our faith but because of the power of God. It is the object of our faith that is important, not the quantity of our faith. It is God who moves mountains and not our strenuous efforts.
I also encouraged my friend P to speak encouraging words to her friend D. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
There’s something powerful about the spoken word. When I am feeling discouraged, I like to listen to sermons by Joel Osteen and the positive message I heard preached to me gives me a great lift. When you hear the Word of God spoken to you by another person, hear the Word being affirmed by another person, that can bring life into a soul that’s dying.
For D, I would recommend speaking the promises in the Bible to her, promises that affirm God’s love, care, victory and deliverance. Promises like “In all things God works for good for those who love Him”, “We are more than conquerers in Christ”, “Nothing can separate us from His love”, “Never will I [God] leave you nor forsake you”.
Besides listening to God’s Word, prayer is also another way for increasing your faith in God. In Mark 9:14-30, Jesus meets a man whose son is possessed by a demon. Jesus tells the man – “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Jesus answers the man’s prayer by helping him overcome his unbelief and casting out the demon from his son.
Faith is more than just positive thinking. Faith is not something we can generate by ourselves, that’s why we need to pray for God to give it to us. Faith is a spiritual gift, a gift given to us by God’s grace.
Faith is often the most powerful when we are faced with the most difficult of circumstances. Which is why the difficult situations faced by D might actually be a blessing in disguise. If you want to have great faith, the most effective way to increase your faith is through undergoing a great test. Great faith comes when you have to put what you believe into practice. It’s like being an athlete. Sportsmen exert their muscles against something, using resistance training to become stronger. In the same way, to build your faith muscles, your faith needs to come under pressure from something and this usually comes in the form of some sort of trial, difficulty or test. So sometimes a disaster can be something God can use to give you an opportunity to put your faith in Him in practice and a way to grow your faith to higher levels. As Smith Wigglesworth said, “Great victories come out of great battles.”