We could divide Jesus-followers into two camps on the issue of faith: the child-like believer and the faith-strugglers. Those with child-like faith may wrestle, but they have an underlying confidence in God. The faith-strugglers, well, struggle. They doubt. They question.
Which is better? You probably think the child-like ones. And on some level, you’re right. Jesus himself said that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18). Well, great.
So are the doubters just kicked out? Hardly. Look at the first followers of Jesus. They had doubts and confusion about Jesus that constantly resurfaced. Jesus even called them “you of little faith.”
The Greek word for “you of little faith” is oligopistos. It means “trusting too little.” Jesus alone uses this word — it is not found in any other voice but his — in three scenes in the New Testament.
Matthew 6:30 & Luke 12:28 — the famous “do not worry” speech. If God takes care of birds/flowers/etc., will he not care for you, too, you of little faith?
Matthew 8:26 — Jesus and the disciples are in a boat; he is snoozing while a storm threatens to capsize them all. When they wake him up, terrified, he says, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” And he takes care of them.
Matthew 16:8 — The disciples forget to bring bread on their journey and Jesus uses it as a metaphor to warn them of the religious teachers. They miss the metaphor, causing Jesus to call them “you of little faith.” He then explained himself more clearly.
If the disciples — the witnesses to the miracles and words of Jesus — were called “you of little faith,” no wonder it can be so difficult for us to believe!
If you are one of the followers with little faith, take heart: you are not excluded. In fact, you are in great company. Jesus has tremendous patience and compassion. However, action is involved on our part. Doubt is not somewhere you may stay forever.
Jesus’ listeners had to decide not to worry about their basic needs. They had to choose to trust him in the storm. They had to listen to what he was really saying.
Struggling and doubt are often part of being on the Way with Jesus. They lead to a mature faith. Doubt is different from unbelief. It can be painful. In the examples above, note that turning to faith required a decision, required action.
Decide what action you need to take to move through your feelings of doubt. Is it prayer? Research? Caring for someone? Not worrying? Making a decision? Take the action, the small step of faith.