You know how it's like. When all is well in life and you feel at peace and confident. It's easy then to wave your hands in the air, sing "Halleluiah" or such like Praise Song, and tell everyone how good and great is Our Lord.
But what happens when things aren't so good? When they are bad? In fact when they're very bad? Very bad indeed?
Do we still jump up and down praising God? We should ... but do we do it? Always?
Or does a tiny little bit of doubt creep into our mind, and it slowly grows as big as the devil's smile?
Our human nature dictates that at times we do doubt and worry. It's how we're made. It's how God created us. And He knows too well that it's our human failings that come to the fore when the pressure is on.
We may pray and pray, and then pray some more. But then ... nothing. No response from God or from Anyone else out there. It's like talking to a phone that has been cut off.
We ask others to pray for us and our situation. They promise to do so. But still nothing. No One seems to be listening on the other end of the phone.
Our doubts grow and the devil smiles some more.
We ask whether God is really there. Does He exist? Is it all an imagination? Are we alone to our fate and our destiny as the world goes round and the years pile on to our shoulders?
When we're at our wit's end with doubts, fears and worries. When we feel that we're losing our Faith and the very beliefs we've held on to over periods of time; that's when in effect our Faith is being strengthened.
The very fact that we're still praying, or we're asking someone else to pray for us because we're too tired and disheartened; this fact alone is itself proof that we believe in something or Someone.
We wouldn't pray if there was no One there to listen. The very fact that prayers are still being said proves that deep within our souls there's still a very tiny flame still burning ... still hoping ... still daring to believe. Despite all our doubts and troubles there's still a teeny weeny little bit of belief. It may be smaller than half a mustard seed. But it's still there.
All our pains, our worries and our troubles serve to strengthen our Faith, however small it is right now.
As the man said to Jesus: "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief". (Mark 9:24).
The man believed in something or Someone, however vague and confused his belief was, but that was enough for Jesus to take pity on him and to respond.
We've all got different amounts of Faith and Beliefs ... assuming they can be measured as such. Some of us can undergo great difficulties and pains and their Faith remains steadfast and an example to many. Others crumble and tumble at the first hurdle and break down to almost nothing.
God knows that. He knows us all and He knows our capabilities and our propensity to be tested. Read this bit from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians a couple of times.
“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out”. (1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse 13).
God will not allows us to be tested beyond our capabilities. He is not in the business of losing souls ... least of all His own followers. He'd leave ninety-nine safely praying and go out looking for the one wandering away in a daze.
When we ask God to give us Faith ... to "help our unbelief"; He doesn't give us a magic pill to increase our Faith, or wave a magic wand to make it happen.
He allows a situation to develop to give us an opportunity to trust Him more and so increase our Faith in Him.
Wow ... that's complicated.
He allows a situation to happen which makes us trust Him more ... to increase our unbelief ... to increase our Faith.
I once asked someone how come he had such great Faith. He replied that in life he'd been through so many bad situations where he knew that God was there every time helping him.
That made me feel smaller than half a mustard seed.