Faith can have different meanings. We who follow Jesus Christ are called people of faith. This faith is something you either have or don’t have: you put your faith and trust in Jesus, or you don’t. Yet there is more. Faith is also a gift from God that can grow. You can have weak or little faith. You can be full of faith (Acts 6:5), stand firm in faith (1 Cor 16:13), and draw near to the Lord in full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22).
Jesus once said to his disciples, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt 8:26). The disciples had put their trust in Jesus and made their new allegiances known, and now Jesus was calling them to grow in their confidence in him. As his disciples, we, too, are invited to hear the question and respond, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). The image is one of seeds that grow.
This growing faith can also be understood as a seeing faith. Think of faith as vision. Your vision can be weak and near-sighted or strong in a way that goes beyond the boundaries of human vision. Faith is the way you see the visible world and the invisible world. This less visible world sustains and surrounds what is more visible (Heb 11:3).
We can ask each other, How well have you been seeing? Can you see just beyond the creation to the Creator? Can you see just beyond human love to the divine love that gives it birth?
This seeing comes from the Spirit, through the Word. Visual clarity comes as the Father speaks to us through his Son and the Spirit opens our eyes and gives us more of Jesus. More faith, more sight, more of the Spirit—these are all ways of saying the same thing, and we can ask for them.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
The resulting improvement in sight will feel like more confidence in God and his Word. You will be a bit more assured of his love, which means that you will see that your God keeps coming close to you even when you are surrounded by trouble.
You might be helped by Elisha’s prayer for his servant when they were surrounded by a Syrian army, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” In this case, improved vision came quickly.
So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
Doubts, even despair, can overtake us all. There are times when we see darkness and little else. These times, in turns out, are occasions for the Spirit to improve our sight and help us see the unseen. Consider being more persistent when darkness descends. There is more to see. Pray that the Spirit would open your eyes. Ask others to pray for you. Search Scripture until light comes. Use the cross of Jesus Christ to bring greater acuity to the present. Persist until larger and hopeful realities come into view.