Do I have enough faith? Am I confident enough that the Lord will answer my prayers? Will my doubts prevent me from receiving anything from the Lord?
These are just a few of the many doubts that plague us. However, we are in good company. The Psalmist, King David, also doubted the Lord:
- In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” (Psalm 31:24)
David had given up on the Lord. But this wasn’t the end of the story:
- …Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. (31:24)
Our deliverance doesn’t depend upon us – the level of our faith, confidence, assurance, or anything else about ourselves. It depends on God alone! Despite David’s lapse of faith, God “heard” and delivered him.
What a relief that we do not have to continually scrutinize ourselves – our degree of faith or doubt! Although we have to examine ourselves regarding sin, we do not have to obsess about whether we have enough faith.
Jesus’ disciples had obsessed about this. They thought that faith was a matter of quantity, and they wanted more of it. They asked their Lord to increase their faith (Luke 17:5).
However, Jesus explained that it wasn’t a matter of quantity. Instead, if they had the smallest measure of faith, they could move mountains and mulberry trees!
Rather, faith was a matter of quality. The disciples had to understand that they couldn’t earn anything from the Lord - not blessings, not even a “thank you.” They couldn’t place faith in their own merit or worthiness or even in the level of their faith. They all were, at best, “unworthy” servants. Consequently, their faith could only rest in the mercy of the Lord (Luke 17:6-10) – not in themselves. According to Jesus, this understanding was equivalent to great faith.
Why does God demand a faith that is exclusively invested in Him? I think that there are many reasons for this. Anything else would make us arrogant (Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:29). Besides, realizing that he was utterly unworthy of God, David loved Him all the more for His mercy:
· Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:21-24)
Had David instead exercised flawless faith, he might have convinced himself that God had delivered him because his faith in God had made him worthy of God’s deliverance. Instead, David realized how faithful God had been to him despite his own faithlessness. Rather than loving himself, David exulted in the “wonders of His love.” God allows us to be weak and needy so that we too might so exult.
Instructor at New York School of the Bible, New York
Teach classes of OT, Theology and Apologetics.