The other day I found myself saying on more than one occasion “If it’s not one thing it’s another.” In retrospect, it’s really a silly statement, stating the more than obvious. Of course there is always something happening, and yet, we usually grumble these words when we are in series of difficulties, and not when we are experiencing joys strung together like a string of pearls.
You see, in addition to a multitude of other “issues” our cat went missing. Unfortunately, we didn’t note his absence until dusk, when it is next to impossible to spot anything in the near darkness of the night. We prayed. We made signs. We rang doorbells. We called his name (although he is not known for bounding at attention when we do so).We prayed some more. We walked around the block with a flashlight. We crawled behind bushes. Eventually, the darkness of the night closed in around us and we went indoors to wait it out.
My oldest daughter placed food and a kennel on the back porch, and we began to formulate our plan for the night. Who would sleep on the floor next to the screen door, available for the cat’s hopeful return? How would we fit at least five people on the kitchen rug, and who was willing to extend in to the family room? What if he didn’t return? When would we call the Humane Society? Should we leave the food indoors or outdoors? Would a wild animal eat the food?
And then out of nowhere, we heard a “meow” and there he was, standing by the screen door.
“Oh, you of little faith” was the first thing that popped in to my mind, and I immediately developed a pit in my heart that sprouted forth with disappointment in my lack of faith; I was humbled. I had prayed for the cat’s return, but not whole heartily. No sooner did we realize the cat was gone that the “what if’s” marched right in and set up camp. There they quickly unpacked, got out the artillery and were ready and armed to wage war against my faith, and they seemed to be winning.
I forgot and feared, when I need to remember and rely. I was afraid. I was flooded with memories of other times when I had prayed for one thing, and God had given me another. What I forgot was that when God had said “no” to a prayer, He had something different in mind and He was not going to leave me alone, unequipped of His grace to handle it.
Dear reader, perhaps you have experienced a similar wavering in your faith, either in a small way or a large one. In the gospels I see Jesus interacting with those who love Him, during challenging times, and I hear Him saying to them, “Oh, you of little faith!” This statement from Jesus usually came right after the disciples had witnessed a miracle like the feeding of the five thousand. Phew! I am not alone! In the book of Mark (9:22-24) Mark shares the story of man who is pleading with Jesus to heal his son. The father said, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responds with, “’If you can?’ Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” The father had belief and unbelief present at the same time.
The cat showed up within the hour of when our search started. Although my faith at that moment was weak, God chose to have the cat return. However, I think God had something bigger to show me – my unbelief. I’m not sure I totally understand it, but I am convicted of it, and humbled by it. Somehow, I too, have belief and yet, unbelief.
And so tonight, and I am sure for days to come, my prayer is: Dear Lord, please help me with my unbelief. I love you and want to follow you. Whether it is one thing, or another, help me to remember what You have done for me and help me to rely on You.