In Luke 18:8, when speaking of His second coming, Jesus wondered if He would find faith on earth on His return. Several times in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus rebuked His disciples for having little or no faith. In many of the accounts of His healing people, Jesus praised those healed for their faith and told them that it was their faith that brought about their healing. Clearly, it is Jesus’ desire that we have faith. But what exactly does it mean to have faith and what kind of faith should we have?
Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is having confidence in the things that we hope for. It is having assurance about the things that we cannot see. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we walk by faith and not by sight. True faith, the kind of faith that Jesus wants us to have, is not having faith in what we can wrap our minds around, things that we can fully understand. It is not having faith in the things that we can clearly see. True faith is trusting God even when what we see in front of us seems impossible for us to understand or accomplish in the flesh. It is believing that God will fulfill His promises.
The Bible is full of examples of true faith. Take Moses. Having been told by God that he was to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses obeyed. He led them in their flight from Egypt only to be pursued by Pharaoh and his men. Although they had a head start on the Egyptians, the people of Israel soon found themselves facing the Red Sea. With the sea in front of them and the pursuing Egyptian army behind them, they were trapped and began to complain to Moses. But Moses had faith in God. When God told him to lift up his rod, raise his hands, and part the Red Sea, Moses didn’t look at the sea and say, “Wait! I’m going to lift up this stick in my hands and the waters are going to part? No way!” Moses did what God told him to do. The Red Sea parted, the people of Israel crossed through it, and God drowned the Egyptian army behind them (Exodus 14).
When the people of Israel were in captivity in Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar reigned, a decree was made that everyone must worship a golden image of the king. Anyone who refused faced the penalty of being thrown into a fiery furnace. Three of the Jews who were among the captives, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, knew that worshipping Nebuchadnezzar would be in disobedience to God. They would worship God and Him only. Their refusal to bow down to the gold image of the Babylonian king resulted in their being thrown into the furnace. But they had faith in God. Despite the fact that they were facing the flames and the furnace was made even hotter than usual, they didn’t say, “Uh, maybe we were a bit hasty about not bowing to that golden image.” They believed that God would deliver them. They were thrown into the fire, but were not burned up. Their clothes were not singed and they didn’t even smell like smoke! Their trust in and obedience to God was rewarded (Daniel 3:14-27).
When we are facing obstacles in our lives that resemble the Red Sea, when our circumstances seem like that fiery furnace, or when we are being called by God to do something that we don’t feel capable of doing, we need true faith. We need to be like Moses and like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. We need to be obedient to our God and have complete trust in Him, for He can do far more than we can wrap our minds around (Ephesians 3:20).