In Luke 17 the disciples have witnessed Jesus perform miracles and forgive sins. As they have observed Jesus they have also noticed He speaks a lot about the importance of faith. They begin to connect the dots to realize that faith is apparently pretty important when it comes to following Jesus. And so, they ask Jesus to increase their faith. They assume that in order to really follow Jesus and see the miraculous in their own life they need a greater amount of faith.
But Jesus responds with a subtle correction. He notes that even a small amount of faith would be enough to uproot a mulberry tree and have it planted in the sea. The point Jesus is making is that it is not the amount of faith that matters. It is the object of one’s faith that is most important.
This understanding is important for us when we initially accept Christ as our Savior. In this process we are putting our faith and trust fully in Christ to save us and not in our own works. It is also important to continue this mindset throughout our Christian life. However, this is where many of us can struggle. We trust Christ with our most important need, but we struggle to trust Him with all of the other needs and trials we encounter in life. Paul reminds us that if we can trust God with our salvation then we can trust Him with all of our other needs as well (Romans 8:32).
And so, we must address this tendency of a lack of trust. But how we address it is important. We do not try to increase the amount of our faith like the disciples did. Instead we need to grow in our appreciation and understanding of the person in whom we place our faith. As we saturate our souls with God’s Word and read of how He has worked in the lives of men and women who have gone before us we find our ability to trust God grow. As our appreciation of the greatness and splendor of God increases so does our ability to place our faith in Him.
And there is another by product of immersing ourselves in the riches of God’s Word. We find that exposure to Scripture conforms our minds and hearts to the will of God. The result is that we know better how to pray and what to pray for. As we grow in our love for God we also grow in our understanding of His will for our lives.
But what happens when we place our faith in God, pray, and the tree doesn’t move? The financial provision doesn’t come through. The healing does not occur. The answer is no. Do we blame ourselves? Did we simply not have enough faith? Obviously not. Again, the focus of Luke 17 is to underscore that the object of one’s faith is of more importance than the amount of faith.
Paul helps us in this situation. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul tells us of a personal situation in which he was plague by some unknown difficulty. He prays repeatedly for God to remove the thorn. He is then met by an answer of “no” from God. Is this because Paul did not have enough faith? Is it because His faith was not in God? That is highly unlikely. Instead we learn that sometimes we can have a mustard seed of faith that is completely placed in God and ask for a good thing that is still not granted. In these moments we learn that God has a greater plan and purpose. We must continue to trust that God’s plan and purpose for our lives is still for our good and His glory.
So, take time to expose yourself to the greatness and beauty of God. Allow this to deepen your faith and trust in Him. And then pray. Trusting that God will always answer in a way that is for our good and His glory.