I finally learnt what mustard seed faith was last year.
The mustard seed is such a small seed, just 1-2 mm in diameter. You can hardly see it being held in the picture above.
It was Jesus who said to His disciples “…for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
When we decided to make the move to Auckland, the first mountain we encountered was finding a job for TJ. We made our plans, did our sums, and prayed for the Lord’s favour on the entire process. We held on to the confident expectation of good that Jesus would see us through, no matter what bumps the journey held.
But as the weeks turned to months, from 3 months to 6 months to 9 months, with just one unsuccessful interview from more than a hundred applications, honestly there were many times when we wavered. Though prayers and words from family and friends were encouraging, our hopes and expectations dwindled as doubts and conflicts increasingly crept into our days. What if no job came? What if we had made the wrong decision? The only thing we didn’t do was get on a plane home.
Finally in desperation one day I found myself in the shower yelling at God – “If You brought us here, at least show us why!” And in just one week, we got contacted by a HR personnel of a company that TJ had applied to more than a month back, one interview, a follow up meeting and the one job offer that exceeded all of our expectations.
It did not come via any referrals or connections, or by our own extra efforts. It was all by Jesus.
What was our mustard seed faith in all of this? Well, I suppose we still believed in Jesus, enough to talk to/yell at Him. We believed that He loved us no matter what, and God saw us righteous in Jesus no matter how we felt. That was about it.
And Jesus simply took that little bitty faith in Him and tagged it to His limitless always-believing faith, and blessed us with the miracle we needed.
On paper we looked like faith heroes, stepping out into the unknown of a new land and new culture, and securing a good job within 3 months of our arrival with prayer and devotion. But we knew better. It was purely by His grace and His grace alone.
It’s interesting that when Jesus told His disciples about mustard seed faith moving mountains, it was against a backdrop of a failed attempt by His disciples to heal a demon-possessed boy. The boy’s father had sought the disciples to heal his son, they tried but had no results, then Jesus came on the scene and cast out the demon.
Afterward, when His disciples asked Him privately why they had failed, Jesus explained that it was due to their unbelieving. Then He made the comment that having faith like a mustard seed would move mountains.
Isn’t that strange? If Jesus had been trying to teach them about overcoming unbelief, shouldn’t He have said something like “you need to have faith like Me without doubt and without wavering, and then you’d been able to cast out the demon”?
Actually, I think He was trying to encourage them and reveal something about Himself to them. He was reminding them, hey guys, this unbelief isn’t such a huge barrier, it’s not about how much you need to believe or force out using your own strength, it’s Me who’s doing the healing, not you. Just remember that I’m with you, and for you, and I’m good to you, and that’s all it takes. The mountain will be moved.*
If you are going through a trying situation, and you find everyday stress, tension, and other distractions and desires coming in to steal the promise and confident hope of God being with you and bringing you through safely, don’t panic. Even if doubts come and you have days of struggles and mess, that’s ok.
You don’t have to focus on praying harder, believing more, or finding ways to increase your faith. Just continue believing in Jesus, that He loves you, He wants to do you good, and He doesn’t condemn you for what you are going through or what you are feeling.
And Jesus will take your little mustard seed faith and wrap it in His always-believing faith, and move that mountain for you.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.
*The account of Jesus healing the demon-possessed boy is found in Matthew 17:14-20.