There are moments in our lives when we have so many questions about things, but we get little or no corresponding answers. There are moments when it seems that all our efforts to get to a precise balance switch over to the reverse; the more we push, the more we get a push-back. You may have had a rock-bottom experience in your finances, marriage, and relationship. It could even be physical, mental, or spiritual challenges that make you defenseless. You know those moments when you are not sure of the next line of action.
An attentive look at the First Reading today (Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4) shows that the suppliant was in the exact situation we examined above. Hear part his painful lines again:
How long, O Lord? I cry for help, but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” But you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?
This excerpt shows the deep frustration and hopelessness of the person in the eye of the frustrating moment. From the lines, we understand that the individual in question has been crying out to God for assistance, but no help seems to be in view. It may not be out of place to ask why he was not able to get help from God. The possible answer to the question is evident in God’s reply to him and part of which would preoccupy us in what follows.
The Just Shall Live by Faith
Many people spend much time in prayer, but very few exercise the faith they have in the course of their prayer. Responding to the suppliant in the First Reading, God first dismisses the idea that He would not listen by stating that He would not disappoint, and even if he delays, it is worth the wait. Going further, He says that the just (righteous) shall live by faith.
God’s response clearly shows that the person praying to God in the passage has faith issues. Here we understand that being just or righteous does not automatically translate to faith; in fact, your faith would show forth your righteousness like the case of Abraham, whose faith was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6).
The one praying to God in the passage from the First Reading had every good quality and intention but faith. If he had faith, he would not complain that God would not listen to him because God answers even before we finish praying (Isaiah 65:24). If the suppliant had faith, he would have known that he needs to be patient and wait for the Lord to act (Psalm 37:7) and that those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31).
At this point, it would be worthwhile for us to define faith for clarity. Faith is not an assumption or a feeling as most people think. Faith is essentially a supernatural gift we have from God, which enables us, when we use it, to believe without looking for verifications. The famous oxymoronic passage from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that faith is the assurance of the things we are hoping for and the evidence of things we cannot see (Hebrew 11:1).
Use Your Faith; You Don’t Need an Increment
In the Gospel Reading today (Luke 17:5-10), we see the apostles coming together to our Lord Jesus Christ to make a joint request, and that is “increase our faith.” Here, they acknowledge that they have faith, but they feel that what they have is not enough. Notice that this question comes after the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the instruction about leading others to sin and forgiving offenders as often as they ask for forgiveness.
To their request for increment in their faith, our Lord tells them that if they have faith like the size of a mustard seed, they could tell a mulberry tree to relocate to the sea, and it would happen. Here, our Lord Jesus Christ tries to tell them that what they need is quality-based faith, not quantity-dependent. Furthermore, they need to put their faith into action no matter little it could be.
Moving Forward in Faith
If the Christian life is hardware, faith would be one of its powerful software. St. Paul was right to name faith as one of the three things that would last (1 Cor. 13:13). We need faith to worship God rightly, and as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “it is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6).
Often, we ride on the wings of doubt and fear more than that of faith. We ride on the wings of faith when we trust in the power of God and not leaning on our understanding (Prov. 3:5). We ride on the wings of faith when we leave every situation in God’s hands so that we can see God’s hands in everything. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real, but with FAITH, we Forward All Issue To Heaven. Faith would not make things easy; it would instead make all things possible through the power of him who can do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine (Eph.320).
Have a beautiful Sunday and a lovely week ahead.