“You have so little faith! Why are you worried about having no food?” (Matthew 16:8)
Sound familiar? Like yesterday? Worried about food and clothing? But I’m NOT worried about food and clothing. The pantry has boxes and cans that could sustain me for several weeks. My closet has more clothes than I can use. “Why are you worried about having no food?” This Jesus Question is perplexing. At least, until I start to ponder it more deeply.
I’m struck by Jesus’ first statement: “You have so little faith.” And that’s the key that opens the door to this text.
Matthew 16 recounts the same story that we find in Mark 8. Yes, that Mark 8! The Mark 8 that has dominated the reflections this Lent. Seriously, it seems impossible to escape it! But in Mark’s recounting of the story, Jesus makes no connection with “little faith.” He does in Matthew 16.
The issue here is not really food. The disciples may miss a meal, but they won’t starve. They are merely inconvenienced. They’re a little irritated that nobody remembered to pack a lunch. They’re grumbling because of a little hunger. They’re so distracted by their physical wants, that they stop looking at (or to) Jesus. They stop trusting Him.
How easily that happens to us, too.
The real test of our faith might not be the crises we experience periodically but the vast number of smaller distractions that come our way constantly. How easily and quickly do small things distract us from looking at (or to) Jesus?
Flourishing faith does not merely sustain us through severe seasons, but it guides us past minor hiccups. And truth be told, we sweat the small stuff way too much. The Coke machine at work is empty. We’re running late for a meeting. The car battery dies. Someone cancels a meeting with us. We feel a headache coming on. Someone complains to us or about us. We forgot to record an episode of a TV program. And so it goes. And that’s just today!
It’s death by a thousand paper-cuts. Or so we feel. And to the extent that these minor inconveniences get us down, this Jesus Question takes on pointedness and relevance.
The disciples felt bothered by their growling stomachs, and they failed to look to the Savior sitting among them. Perhaps this rather unflattering moment in their lives simply shines a light on our own lives on this Lenten Friday.
The small stuff has a way of getting under our skin. Today, let’s resolve to look at (and to) Jesus. Let’s turn each minor irritation and small inconvenience into an opportunity to trust Christ more. Perhaps then our “little faith” will become a more sustaining faith.