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TITLE: Pondering Faith
By Donna Howell

Critiques are welcome.
Mustard Seed Faith. I've heard this all my life. If you have faith as the grain of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, as small as a grain of sand. This implies to me that I just don't need to do a whole lot of anything to move mountains. This can be discouraging to those who pray fervently and don't see those mountains move. It's safe to say I keep coming back to this subject. It keeps "troubling me."

At one point I came to the understanding that scripture was not referring to the size of the seed, but it's ability to grow to the largest of all plants. How does anything grow to be that large? Nurturing. So we are to nurture our faith with prayer and the word, so it will grow, grow, grow. There is a problem with that. The cares of this world will beat down the heartiest of faith, just as a natural disaster will flatten the mustard plant. Of course, then the inevitable happens. We blame ourselves, we grow weary with trying, and sometimes we give up. That's what the enemy wants us to do. He even uses these scripture's, the very word of God against us. He can do that. He tried it in the garden with Jesus. He will do it to us. But remember, Jesus knew the scripture better than he. He is the scripture.

Give up. Those words trouble me too. There's that word again. Trouble, troubling. I heard a story recently about a farmer. He said; "I planted some grain last year and the seed sacks said (say that one three times) they contained 99 percent grain, but one percent "other seeds." Now I had no idea that the "other seeds" were mustard seeds, and when I went to harvest that field...I was shocked! The one percent mustard seeds had taken over my entire field!" I would say he was in "trouble." Those seeds were "persistently" destroying his crop. They were hard to kill and they just keep persisting.

Now I have two words to go with my mustard seed. Troubling and persistent. So if we trouble the Lord with our persistent requests that destroy other things (like doubt) is that what mustard seed faith is?

Luke 18:2-4 "There was in a city a judge which feared not God, neither regarded man, and there was a widow in that city, and she came unto him, saying. Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for awhile but afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God nor regard man, yet because this widow TROUBLETH me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find FAITH on the earth?"

The widow "troubled" the judge with her "persistence." The Lord went on to say "hear what the unjust judge said. Why would God not do even more for his children who cry day and night to him." Then he said, "even though He bear long with them." It may take awhile, but he will do it, don't give up!

Jacob realized this when he wrestled with a man before going to his brother Esau, whose birthright he had previously stolen.

Genesis 32:24-26 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Jacob held on and "refused" to let go. This was a physical confrontation, yet he was determined that he was going to "trouble and be persistent," until he got his blessing.

Some say he wrestled with an angel, but scripture quotes him as saying in verse 30 that his life was spared because he had come "face to face" with God.

Why does God sometimes delay our answers? I have questioned this so many times. In my own stress, I want him to do it now! "I can't bear the pain, I can't bear to watch the suffering" etc......

God uses every circumstance in our lives to refine and teach us, just as he did in the following scriptures:

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

We all know the ending to this story. God went with them into the fiery furnace and delivered them. He stood as a fourth man in the furnace as a witness to those who were there, and the three came out refined in their faith and greater witnesses than before. Note verse 18. Their determination to serve God meant that even if He chose not to deliver them, they would continue to serve Him. He was sovereign and they would accept their fate whatever He chose for them.

So faith is as the grain of a mustard seed, just as it is the widow who beat on the judge's door, and as Jacob who refused to give up. It is troubling and persistent. It is also the ability to stand when we don't see an answer as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say "I will trust no matter what. God is Sovereign."
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