I have met several people who were disillusioned with Christianity and religion in general because they thought that having faith meant they would always get what they wanted. Jesus taught us very specifically that “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20) While faith can make it so that nothing is impossible for us, it does not always mean getting what we want or even what we need. Sometimes faith means accepting the will of the Lord because it is always better than our own will and desire.
Sometimes the trials we face, the mountains we struggle to climb, are not removed. Perhaps God has a purpose for us in climbing those mountains or in traveling along a difficult and rocky road in life. The faith required to climb our mountains is actually greater than the faith needed to remove them.
I have climbed many mountains in my life time. Faith did not always allow me to remove those mountains from life’s journey. Instead, God gave me the courage and the strength to struggle, toil and climb them. Because of this, my faith has grown stronger.
In the book, Sustainable Spirituality: Maintaining Faith in the Face of Adversity, we read that “The strength of our souls, not the circumstances of our lives, chases away the fear in our hearts and ensures the establishment of peace within. With a perfect love that drives out fear, Jesus consistently and persistently declares the way of peace in the midst of suffering and turmoil, present or future, expected or unexpected.”
As Jesus walked across the turbulent waves of the Sea of Galilee, he approached his disciples who were out in the boat and called to them, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27) The apostle Peter desired to leave the boat and meet Jesus out on the troubled waters and Jesus told him to come. As Peter took his eyes off the Savior and looked down at the tempestuous waves swirling beneath his feet and felt the boisterous winds blowing against his face, he became afraid and began to sink. Looking back at Jesus, Peter cried, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:30, 31)
Peter was just an ordinary man, yet the Lord enabled him to do an extraordinary thing; to walk on water. Peter started to sink because of the storm that surrounded him. How many of Christ’s followers lose their faith when faced with the storms of adversity?
When Peter stood on top a stormy sea and his heart began to fill with fear, Jesus did not stop the storm. He did not calm the waves or silence the winds. Instead, he reached out his hand and pulled Peter up and he will do the same for us during the storms we face in life. He may not always calm the wind or the waves beneath our feet, but he will give us the strength to endure. As he did with Peter, he will reach out his arm and lift us up.
It is of particular intertest that once Peter and Jesus entered into the boat, then and only then, did the winds cease. (Matt. 14:31) If, when Jesus reaches his hand out to us, we allow him into our hearts and lives, we will find peace, strength and comfort.
Again, in Sustainable Spirituality, we read: “As our faith becomes more resilient, we can respond more maturely to trials and temptations, the tragic events that will certainly surface in our lives…. When we are born of the Spirit and honestly seek Christ, we will become resilient in surmounting life’s problems and perplexities. When we renounce the world and its enticements, we generate wisdom, judgment and confidence. Finding our sustainability in spirituality, we can then lift, enlighten and liberate others.”
Difficulties and trying circumstances are placed in our path for reason. Often the mountains in our path are there to strengthen us and fortify our faith as we confront them and climb them with the Lord by our side. Nothing Jesus does and nothing he allows to happen to us will ever harm us permanently. Difficulties and hardships can strengthen our will, refine our faith, and make us greater disciples of Christ.
When you face those challenging mountains, don’t wish for them to be gone. Pray instead for the courage, the strength and the faith to surmount them. Some mountains may never be removed but with faith in the Lord, enabled by the strength he provides, you will climb even the rockiest ridges.
“On the shore of peace and tranquility, Jesus Christ is the only dependable beacon on which we can firmly rely. When we feel the floods threatening to drown us and the waves eager to devour the tiny tossed vessel of our faith, during the darkest hours of our storm the comforting words of Christ resonate within our hearts: ‘Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.’”
Spiritual Sustainability: Maintaining Faith in the Face of Adversity