“The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith.” – John Calvin
The door is in front of you…
It is something you have hoped for again and again. Prayers stained with tears fill your journal. You remember the ache in your soul wishing for God’s soothing balm of his blessings.
Yet, we stop. We are hesitant of the door in front of us. It is like God is welcoming us into a new chapter. Yet, we still hesitate. Whether it is an invitation to experience a blessing or the arrival of an ominous event, we hesitate.
We are nervous to hope. We feel like God has burned us before. A good opportunity has spoiled. A trial as tested us to a tipping point. We feel God teases us, rips the rug out from under us, and is some sick person wanting a grisly glory out of our pain.
What this leads to is our hesitancy. We are nervous to hope.
But, is that ok?
Burned by God
All of us have faced something where we have felt burned by God. We walked through a door only to have the floor drop out from under us. We have been placed into a trial praising God, but our passion for God waned as we grew weary each step of the way as we prayed for strength.
We ask why, and we question if God is good in doing this. We begrudgingly attend church. Our presence is counted, so we’re not asked the deeper questions. Our once, passionate flame slowly reduces to an ember barely keeping our ever-increasing cold soul warm.
The more you try to fan the flame, the more the bitter wind chills you to the bone. The more you desire and seek for the fire to spark again, the more you find your little ember on life-support.
How many times people have told us to go to church, read our Bible, listen to praise music, pray, or find community? How many times have those words fell like rain dousing all our efforts?
We find ourselves questioning our faith. We hear Jesus call the disciples “of little faith,” and we feel his condemnation. Our heart is heavy, because we feel we have not lived up to the “Christian expectation.”
With all these mixed emotions, we come to the realization we have been burned by God. He knew all these situations would happen. He is in control, and he did nothing.
We feel burned by God.
The Burned Disciple
Being burned by God isn’t an isolated feeling. In fact, one disciple had a situation where I bet he thought, “I just got burned by Jesus. Why didn’t he tell me to stay put?”
Peter could have easily thought that after his escapade on the water found in Matthew 14:22-33.
The disciples sailed into some rough water one evening. The waves battered the sides and shook them to the core. Their unstable situation brought out their fears. In fact, they claimed a ghost sighting! It was a phantom walking along the chaotic currents. Fear focused their minds on the worst.
However, Jesus quickly calms their fears. Peter, then, requests to join Jesus on the waves. Jesus invites him onto the waves. Peter gets out of the boat, walks on the water, sinks, and Jesus rescues him.
I bet one of the thought the now shivering Peter thought was, “Why didn’t Jesus tell me to stay in the boat? I almost died out there.” Peter was “burned” by Jesus. An invitation was ripped from under him.
The Name of Faith
We have felt like Peter. “Jesus if you knew I would go through that, then why did you make it seem like everything was ok?” We already hoped for the best, but now this happened. Peter hoped to go to Jesus, and look what happened to him.
Then when a similar situation arises, we are nervous to hope. Our hesitancy keeps us from stepping out of the boat again.
Yet, there is something comforting in what Jesus says to Peter. He calls him “of little faith.” Jesus points out the small amount of faith Peter had in that moment. So many times we read that and think, it is Jesus scolding Peter. Yet, why would Jesus call him of little faith if Jesus honors the faith small as a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20)?
Jesus recognized Peter’s faith. It was his doubt Jesus called out. Similarly, Jesus doesn’t scold us for the smallness of our faith. Instead, he calls out our doubt. He wants to unearth the golden veins of faith covered by the dense dirt of doubt in our soul.
Jesus called Peter Little Faith that day on the waves. It is intimate and caring. Jesus calls us the same when we begin to sink. He says, “Little Faith, why did you doubt? I am right here.” It isn’t a name to shame, but a name to show your golden faith.
When He Calls…
Yet, we still face the hesitancy to follow him through another door, another trial, or another chapter. We know we have been burned before and almost drowned. But did we? No.
Usually when we face a trial, we think God will turn it into an incredible story of victory. I have thought this many times. Maybe God will heal me of my Spina Bifida, maybe God will restore my relationship with my family, maybe God will give me my dreams, and maybe God will take away my struggle. Think about what would happen if he does? Endless possibilities, right?
But, what if the story of victory isn’t in the healing? What if it is found in his sustaining us each step of the way?
September 2020, I revealed to my family I am same-sex attracted and wanted their love and support as I worked through it all. Instead, it has led to rejection and a very tense relationship. Our lives changed October 2021 when my wife was hospitalized for severe depression. Then recently, someone used my past and a grudge to rip an opportunity right from under us. It has felt like God teased us and brought us to places where we have doubted. We have raised our hands in praise one month, and then next month felt like we were flipping God off. We trusted God through each trial, but it felt like all we were experiencing were trials. When good opportunities were opened, we hesitated following Jesus.
It wasn’t our little faith getting in the way of our hope. It was our doubts.
We are nervous to hope when we have to walk out into the storm again. We are nervous to hope when he calls us after we have been through so much. Yet, Jesus reaches to us and gently says, “Little Faith…”
When we are nervous to hope remember your name – Little Faith
My Little Faith, I know what you have seen
I know your world is far from green
I see your heart and soul
I hear your cries as tears down your cheek roll
I feel your hurt
As you fall on your knees in the dirt
My Little Faith, I do not condemn you
It is ok to ask what to do
It is go to lift your fist to the sky
You have my permission to ask why
Your questions make me smile
Because it shows you have faith to go a mile
My Little Faith, I will sustain you and am here
My love for you is deep and dear
The victory is found in the next step
It is not found in a perceived pep
I will use your story for the world
My plan the enemy cannot furl
I see you
I love you
For you, I have plans
In your life, you will see my hands
You may ask why
You may even have suspicion in your eye
In all this world of hardship and wraith
I have chosen and named you my Little Faith