“If only I had faith . . .” When there is an “if only” statement, it is generally followed by a “then” statement. So what is the “then” that follows the “if only I had faith” statement?
Here are some possibilities:
- “Then” my prayers would be answered.
- "Then” I would ace my exams.
- “Then” I would get well.
- “Then” I would win the lottery or get a raise.
- “Then” my children would be OK.
- “Then” I would find the love of my life.
- “Then” my spouse would be nicer to me.
- “Then” I’d lose some weight.
Lots of options for our “then” statements here.
I wonder what Jesus’ disciples had in mind when they said to him one day, “We need more faith. Tell us how to get it.” (Luke 17:5, New Living Translation). Perhaps they were asking for more power in order to bring healing to others. Or for more willingness to lead sacrificial lives. Or for an ability to really forgive others. Not too long before, Jesus has reminded them that every time someone asks for forgiveness, they are to offer it. That’s a tough one for most of us. Definitely takes a lot of faith to do that. And all of these possibilities seem like reasonable requests for an increase in faith.
But Jesus certainly doesn’t give the kind of answer most of us would like particularly well. He just tells them that if they had even a tiny bit of faith, they could do anything they wished. What they really needed was to learn to obey God.
Hmmm. This is kind of like me saying, “Hey, God, one of my sons is moving to France next year and I’d really like to learn French—how about giving me a gift of speaking in that language?”
Then God responds, “What a great idea! I’ll definitely give you that gift, Christy. Here’s what you do: take several classes the language, start listening to teaching CD’s when you are in the car. Read French literature when you want to relax a bit and plan on several months in some French language immersion classes. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking it beautifully! That’s my gift to you.”
Ouch! That’s a lot of hard work! I just want it handed to me, all nice and neat, no effort required. Nothing like exposing my laziness! I suspect that’s what Jesus had in mind here when speaking to his disciples. “You want the easy road—but I’m calling you to the road of obedience and hard work. It may be tougher in the short run, but the long run rewards are so much greater.”
So, will I make the effort to learn French? Probably not. I admit it—I just want the result without the hard work going into it. But there are areas of my life where I will make the effort—and one of those is seeking each day to have an obedient heart toward God. That is worth the hard work. Hope you’ll join me.