When Faith Doesn’t Move The Mountain

If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, mine must be the size of a proton. Because sometimes it seems to do nothing more than toss cotton balls at the mountain range of unbelief in my life. Take, for example, my fear of what others think of me. 

I have a pretty consistent fear that maybe I’ve done something in the past or will do something in the future that will bring shame upon me. This fear revs into high gear when I step into situations in which I’m to be evaluated by other people. What if they discover me to be as bad as I fear I might be? What if I’m rejected or embarrassed or become the object of peoples scorn? I felt this fear as my in-laws scanned my life for “red flags” before I married their daughter. I felt it in past job interviews. I feel it right now as I prepare to be interviewed by an admissions committee at a school.

I hate feeling anxious—not least of all because I know the Lord commands me to not be anxious. I try my hardest to stomp out the dreadful emotion by grabbing hold of all the truth I can. But more times than not, my faith seems to accomplish nothing. No matter how long I stare into the ink of biblical promises or meditate on them or pray them back to God, the emotional experience of fear persists. 

Maybe this will change as I mature in the Lord’s grace. I pray so. But as for now, my proton-sized faith isn’t moving this mountain.

However, this doesn’t mean my faith is doing nothing. Even proton-sized faith, if connected to an omnipotent God, is a conduit of real power and accomplishes real things. While I’m not at this point accessing power to obliterate the emotional experience of fear, I am accessing power to press onward in the midst of fear. And that’s not nothing! To walk through the mountain range of unbelief, with fears and struggles towering over you on every side, with your eyes halfway shut and a trembling hand holding onto God for dear life—that is something. It’s a real, concrete act of faith that testifies to the glorious grace of God at work in my life. 

If there are mountains in your own life that aren’t budging, please you’re not alone—neither in terms of human company or the company of God. The persistence of your struggles is not a sign that God has abandoned you or an evidence of lostness. The disciples who walked alongside Jesus were incapable of doing some things that, according to Jesus, they would be able to do if they had greater faith (Matthew 17:20). Even after Christ’s resurrection and the outpouring of his Holy Spirit, Christian leaders struggled with unbelief and sin. The Apostle Peter couldn’t seem to completely shake his fear of man (Galatians 2). The Apostle Paul didn’t consider himself to have attained perfect faith (Philippians 3). The fact of the matter is that all Christians struggle to think and feel and act as we should.

But we struggle forward. The mountains may not move, but we do. By faith we get out of bed despite the depression, we wash our faces despite the fear, and we press on despite yesterday’s failures. We trust God to carry us, even hour-by-hour, until he brings us to our eternal Home—where the only mountains we’ll see are the those of his rock-solid, high-as-the-heavens, unwavering faithfulness.