Faith that is plentiful and strong can carry a person through difficult circumstances, but small faith will always give place to fear.
Matthew chapter 14 shows three examples of the small faith of the twelve disciples. The first is in verse 16. Matthew tells us the disciples went to Jesus and told him the crowd should be sent away so they will have food. According to the gospel of John, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these might eat?” (John 6:5 NASB). Philip’s reply was telling. He was from nearby Bethsaida (John 1:44) and he thought he knew that providing the crowd something to eat from the local sources would have been nearly impossible. His first concern was that there wasn’t enough money (John 6:7).
One could almost hear this reply from Philip: “Lord, I’m afraid there just isn’t enough money to buy bread for all these.” Philip’s fear factor forgot the Messiah could do anything, and if Jesus said “you give them something to eat,” then that settles it!
How many times has our enormous fear forced faith from our thinking? When there have been times in our lives when we have failed, was it faith that failed us, or was it our little faith overcome by our huge fears?
There is no coincidence this same “alligator fear” overcomes the disciples’ “hummingbird faith” in Matthew 14. Jesus came walking on the water to the disciples and we are told, “When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26). Many sea-faring men of Galilee believed the huge lake was populated by evil disembodied spirits. Even though they had seen the Master a thousand times, their fear flung their faith aside.
Amazingly, Peter asked if he could join Jesus in his walk on the water and the Lord agreed (Matthew 14:29). Peter left the boat and started walking, but when he saw the force of the wind, what happened? He became frightened. His fear increased and squelched his little faith! He began to sink and had to be rescued by Jesus.
The test of faith will come to us all. When it does, what will happen? Will we meet the challenge with a growing, large faith, or will fear force our faith from us? You see, fear need not affect us?
Someone might say, “Well, fear of the unknown is something with which we will always have to deal .” Yes, but we have a God and a Savior named Jesus who has faced every challenge we will ever face and more. He has died and has been raised from the dead. He has shown us how to overcome the things of which we are afraid. So, then, our faith should be stronger than fear, shouldn’t it?