If we’ve heard the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ stilling of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, we are reminded that this is no ordinary man who is asleep on the cushions in the stern of that boat. We, with the astonished disciples, are left marvelling, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27 ESV). It is the Second Person of the Trinity, the God-Man Christ Jesus, Who is back there. Here we see the Emmanuel theme, God with us, portrayed for our learning, comfort, and rebuke.
As disciples of our Lord Jesus we must always remember that He is with us. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV). Where we tend to display “little faith” or “weak faith” is in the active remembrance of His presence, that He is always and everywhere with us. His promise is in woe and in weal, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. He is with us in our fears and our fame, our future and our failures – in our toils, tears, sweat, blood, discouragement, disappointment, and dismay. He is with us! And we must confess that it is a struggle at (most) times to remember – actively, presently remember – this fact. This is a fact based upon the never-changing, always covenant-keeping God. Not in our feelings of the moment, nor in our assessment of the circumstances of present nor in anticipated dread for the future. In our happiness and in our success; but even more in our labour, our frustration, our disappointment, and our fear, Christ is with us and we are actively remembering and actively acting upon this!
Our faith is constantly in need of strengthening. Why? Because we are prone to disbelief. Ironically, the more faith we have, the more vulnerable to disbelief we become!
The more we become aware of the grace of God and the forgiveness of our sins, the more we realize the extent and reach of our sins in our lives. I have been in Christ almost 44 years now, and I see myself a worse sinner now than I did when I was 16. Why? Because I have become more attuned to my sins and their effect and affect upon me. It is the same with our faith. Our faith is constantly in need of strengthening. Why? Because we are prone to disbelief. Ironically, the more faith we have, the more vulnerable to disbelief we become! Just as the man whose son had the unclean spirit, we cry, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV). We realize just how little faith we have, how great our God is, but how little we trust Him, how great His love is for us, but how quickly we can forget that love. We fall into anxious care, forgetting that He is the only One Who genuinely gives that “peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV).
Dear brothers and sisters at Grace, cry out to this One Who is Emmanuel, God with us. Remember His ever-presence with us. Cry out to Him, “I know of Your promise; help me to really know You Who have promised!” Cry to Him to give you faith – not in faith, but faith in Who He is and what He has promised. Cry out to Him to help you remember He is with us, even unto the end of the age – that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world – that greater works than these He will be doing in us through the empowerment and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes our faith is so failing, so frail, that all we can do is frightenedly turn to Him and say, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38 ESV). That little faith that the disciples in the boat have is still faith and calls out to Him: “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And notice – no one is chucked overboard for having little faith! God does not withhold help even from those whose faith is small.
– John Butler