Have a little faith

“Have a little faith” is easy to write as a motivational Instagram post or encouraging week 5 note in someone’s pidge.  In some of the toughest situations we face, however, such a simple statement rarely meets our needs.  We don’t need encouragement or reassurance, we tell ourselves, we need breakthrough – and fast.

Breakthrough is something I’ve been praying for recently, as my grandma went in for a pretty major cancer operation last week.

Throughout my childhood nanny always made a point of praying for me, of teaching me what the Bible said about things, of sending books and DVDs and eventually Bible notes.  You might have this sort of a friend at Cambridge, or a Christian parent— they just don’t seem to understand that it’s not your thing and it’s just so awkward that they keep bringing it up.  For all of their good intentions, that was my attitude: growing up, I was stubborn and dismissive of my grandparents’ religion.

Thankfully that wasn’t the end of the story.  I did in fact become a Christian, when I decided to start going to church for myself (not for anyone else) in order to grapple with the claims Jesus makes in the Bible.  That’s not to say that the things my grandparents tried to teach me were irrelevant, backwards or wrong - rather, they were seeds that God grew into a practicing faith, as I read more and more of the Bible and started to understand what Jesus means when he says he is “The Way, the Truth and the Life”.

As I’ve spent more time with my grandparents as an adult, I realise that the strong faith they have now is the fruit of years of praying and reading the Bible when they didn’t feel like it.  But as some complications have arisen in the wake of Nanny’s operation, that faith I share with my family has felt pretty weak.  We’d placed hope in prayers that Nanny’s operation would be successful, but for the first time in my living memory, death has felt very imminent and inescapable.

So why still have faith in the love of a God who claims to have conquered death, when death is right in front of you?  It doesn’t magic away the sadness.  But it also doesn’t mean God is far away, or that he doesn’t love us.  The real sting of death – which is separation from God – was defeated by Christ when he rose from the grave.  In the face of that Truth, the question “how do I love God” in this situation can be simplified: it’s to understand that Jesus’s resurrection made a Way for me to pray to God.  As I wait for breakthrough, which will finally come when heaven comes back to earth, when we will have eternal Life with Jesus - He is listening and mourning with me.  

All he’s asking is for me to have a little more faith every day.  Which is hard.  But it means that whatever my earthly family looks like, I will still have a living, loving and REAL relationship with my heavenly Father. 

Tom Olyott