O Ye of Little Faith

And he said unto them, Why are ye of little faith? Matt. 8:26a

Storms, upheavals, catastrophes, adverse conditions, sicknesses and troubles are common in life. The result is another list of words and experiences: unrest, fear, turmoil, perplexity, suspense and anxiety, and many more.

Above them all the Christian can hear, if he listens very carefully words that are resounding throughout the world and the ages: “O ye of little faith, why are you so fearful?”


The Lord teaches the disciples and us “simple” lessons. He teaches by Word and example. Here we have a lesson “by example.” In God’s providence a storm arises on the Sea of Galilee. It must be an unusual storm on this comparatively little body of water, where storms can even normally become very severe. But this one is something special even for these veteran fisherman. How helpless they are! Finally there is nothing more they can do. And that’s exactly where the Lord often wants His people to be.

What a “plain lesson” we have here, as a “picture” of the life of His saints. This storm, no doubt, symbolizes the storms which are always raging in this world against the church . and God‘s people, both physically and spiritually. Sometimes we call them adversities. How severe they can be. With some people they last a life time.

But Jesus is asleep!

How impressive this is for us as we look at it from the outside. But it is still more so for those who are in the storms, or in the boats on the sea of life. How significant it is that Jesus is sound asleep. There is the howling wind in the darkness of the night, the terrible roar of the waves. But He is asleep. Likely the disciples can hardly hear each other talk above the noise of the sea, but He keeps on sleeping. The frail boat creaks and cracks as the waves dash against it, with the disciples holding on. And with the Lord likely not even a stir in His sound sleep.

No doubt He is tired. But there is much more here. He teaches important lessons even when sleeping. Here is perfect confidence. He knows His Father will care for them. This the disciples and we with them must learn.

They awaken Him. They’re drowning. They even rebuke Him. Doesn’t He care that they all are going to drown and perish? Isn’t He concerned?!

Which tried Christian doesnt often feel that way? Is this the way of the Lord? Doesn‘t God answer prayers when they arise out of anxious hearts and troubled souls? Does God really answer prayers? Doesn’t it often seem to us that the Lord is unconcerned about our problems and storms?! We struggle, we pray, we cry, with anxious and troubled hearts.

“O ye of little faith” the Lord says to them. There are also other answers in the Bible. But here the Spirit speaks of our little faith. Jesus is not first of all interested or concerned about the storm, but about their souls and weakness of faith. Later He will still the storm. Speaking according to His human nature, the Lord is amazed at the smallness of their faith. Luke records it in another way, “Where is your faith?” The implication is that they reveal very little or no faith at all.

Try once again to imagine what this means for the disciples, how real this all is to them. The boat is already filled with water; they are actually sinking in the midst of these roaring waves. And it is so dark. And then to be rebuked because of their little faith? How can the Lord say such a thing? But the fact of the matter is that He does. And not only to them, but also to us. Who isn’t afraid at times, or even often. Who isn’t afraid when great adversities overwhelm us, when clouds of war threaten, or when the church apostasizes, when materialism and secularism seem to envelope the church and our country? Isn’t fear a part of our lives, accompanied with unrest and anxiety? Is it wrong to be afraid? Of course not, but it is wrong to have little faith. We can easily sing, “Just the time I need Him He is always near.” Surely all Christian confess that our great incomprehensible and merciful God controls all things in His love and wisdom for our good. But isn‘t it true that our faith is often, even most of the time weak? We also know that faith is a gift of God, but isn‘t it often weak at the same time?

No doubt the Lord would rebuke us, too, today, because of our weak faith.

The failure of the disciples is that they see only the storm, not the Lord with them in the storm. And that is a serious mistake and failure. For us the danger and reality usually is that we see the clouds and the storms, but fail to remember the great promises of the Word. Here the Lord admonishes us not to be controlled by the situations and circumstances. And also not to live first of all by feelings.

We have so much more than the disciples. We have the knowledge of the great experience they later have. After Jesus has “preached” this powerful, short “sermon” He gives them another one. By His word this wild sea is instantly quiet. We can hardly imagine such a miraculous change! Who wouldn’t marvel at such power? Today we know that this Lord is with us with the same power and love. We are assured that all authority is given unto Him in heaven and earth, that nothing happens by chance but that all things work together for the believer’s good. In the complete Word we have literally hundreds of promises. And the Lord says to us, “stand on those promises, and live by that faith.” The Holy Spirit gives faith, but always through the use of the Word and prayer. What we need is more diligent, daily use of the Word. For this there has to be more persistent discipline of self with prayer that we may trust more in His faithfulness, love and promises. Turn to the Bible more when you are afraid and worried. Does this sound too simple? Or unreal? It‘s the Word of God that gives us this Divine prescription. And there. fore it is true and will always remain true.

What we fail to see is that these difficulties are often brought upon us because of our weak faith and that through these ways of adversity God wants that weak faith to be strengthened and take deeper root. The Bible calls these trials of faith. Trials, the Lord says, are good for His children. They are a part of our discipline in this life. Scripture is full of references to trials. Look, for example, at the well known eleventh chapter of Hebrews. There we find that long list of heroes of faith. But dont fail to see that all these people first faced storms in life and endured great trials. Read the biographies of the great saints that lived on this earth and you will find that they experienced great difficulties and often faced insurmountable problems. These were their trials. Why the Lord brings more trials upon some people than others, He only knows. But be comforted with the assurance that behind them is the great master plan of our loving Father. . . . Let these truths sink deeply into your souls. In and through them all the Lord says, never forget that I am your Shepherd. And that the clouds which we so often dread are filled with mercy and love. Be strong therefore in the faith, trust and . wait. And never forget that the boat will never sink with the Lord in it. He will always be with His people.

John Blankespoor is pastor of the Pine Creek Christian Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan.