Do You Still Have No Faith?

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God

My righteous one will live by faith….For we live by faith, not by sight….And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him….Jesus said to His disciples, Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Heb 10:38; 2 Cor 5:7; Heb 11:6; Mark 4:40)

This post is based on Mark 4:35-41 and builds on Immanuel: Ruler of the Waves and Jesus Gets Us

Gladys Aylward and the Lord

Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) was a British-born missionary to China, caring for orphans and adopting several herself. When the Japanese invaded Yangcheng, she was forced to flee. With only one assistant, Gladys led more than a hundred orphans over the mountains toward Free China. On the journey, Gladys wrestled with depression. After another sleepless night, she faced the morning with no hope of reaching safety. A 13-year-old girl reminded her of the true story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Gladys said, “But I am not Moses.” The girl answered, “Of course not, but the Lord is still God!” Gladys and the orphans pressed on and made it through. They proved once again that no matter how feeble we feel, God is still God, and we can trust Him to help us.1

I quote again from John Peterson’s hymn:
No one understands like Jesus
When the foes of life assail
You should never be discouraged
Jesus cares and will not fail

Last time we looked at Christ’s divine power and His genuine humanity. Now we see how He rebukes His friends softly, in Bible times and now.

The Disciples Panic

It’s good that the disciples come to Jesus when the storm arises. They run to Him, like we should.  But they come to the Lord freaking out. They come complaining, distrusting, acting impatient, and annoyed. In v. 38, they say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus is sleeping when they need Him. And because He doesn’t act as soon as the hurricane hits, they accuse Him of being unconcerned.

Surely they believe that God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) rules the world. They believe that He is completely holy, wise, and powerful and that He preserves and governs all His creatures, and all their actions. But when the Lord seems unhurried, when He appears disinterested, when He waits til the last minute to act, they question His love. They say, “Teacher, don’t you care?”

G. Campbell Morgan says: “What we do in the crisis always depends on whether we see the difficulties in the light of God, or God in the shadow of the difficulties.”

When our eyes are on the waves instead of the Ruler of the waves, we falter. It’s good to care about our safety. Only fools ignore danger. But sometimes our healthy concern crosses the line into sinful anxiety. If we forget that Christ is in the boat with us, then we can be terrified too.

See Christ’s Gentle Rebuke

In v. 39, Jesus rebukes the sea and storm. But in v. 40, He rebukes the disciples and says, “Why are you so afraid?” You are not just concerned, you’re doubting me. I’m the Creator and you’re fearing created things too much. You’re tormenting yourselves and testing me. Why are you so afraid?

And Christ says in v. 40, “Do you still have no faith?” After you’ve heard my Father speak from heaven. And seen the Holy Spirit come upon me as a dove. And heard demons call me the Holy One of God. And seen me heal people with fevers, leprosy, and paralysis. And heard me forgive sins and teach like no one else ever has. After all this time with me: Do you still have no faith?

The Lord’s not accusing them of being unbelievers. In Matthew, Christ calls them men of little faith. In Luke, He asks: “Where is your faith?” Why are you not exercising it when it counts? Not living by faith in time of trouble? When things go wrong, their practical religion evaporates. And under pressure, I can be like that sometimes, maybe you too.

But notice, though the Lord corrects us gently. Jesus says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent….Do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.”2 Doubting Christ hurts us, beloved, so the Savior steers us back to trusting Him with kindness, tenderness, long-suffering, and love. Thank God, Jesus doesn’t divorce us if we’re faithless for a time. He doesn’t reject us for our stupidity or cast us off. Praise the Lord, Christ doesn’t abandon us when we grieve His Holy Spirit, or when we forget His commitment to us and ours to Him.

Christ bears with us and restores us! Scripture says: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out, till He has brought justice through to victory.”3 He is gentle with harassed and helpless people who are humble before Him. Scripture says: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”4 Jesus says: As a mother has compassion on the child she has borne, I will comfort you.

A Helpful Prayer

In Mark 9, a father asked Jesus to heal his son, possessed by a destructive spirit since childhood. Christ said, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That’s such an honest prayer! It reminds us that our human faith is always weak and never perfect, belief and unbelief are often mixed in us. But this presents no difficulty for God to demonstrate His love and power. Tony Evans says, “If you find yourself doubting the Lord, make this father’s cry your prayer. Be honest with God about your doubts and proceed in faith. God will honor your faith and strengthen it.”

Maybe Christ put the best construction of the disciples’ wavering. That’s why He was gentle with them and graciously rescued them from danger. King David said, “The Lord rescued me from my powerful enemy, who were too strong for me….He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me.”5

Let this old, old story sink down deep into our souls and change us and encourage is, beloved. Dwell upon Christ’s divine power and His genuine humanity, and His gentle rebuke.

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 The Hidden Price of Greatness by Ray Besson and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker.     2 Rev 3:19; Prov 3:11-12.     3 Matt 12:20, quoting Isaiah 42:3.     4 Psalm 103:13-14.     5 Psalm 18:17-19.