Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
For nothing will be impossible with God.
A life of following Jesus often demands that we believe in the impossible.
Believing for miraculous healing.
Believing people and cities and even entire nations to be transformed.
Always, always believing in hope, in the face of tragedy and crisis.
Believing that God will come through for us, with the desires of our hearts.
But believing in the impossible can often feel elusive, out of reach. Even when we have seen and experienced God’s hand in our own lives, it can be easy to slip back into an old way of thinking. Instead of remembering His creative miracles and loving provision, we can look at our current circumstances and our past disappointments as testimony that things can never change, and will never change.
But Jesus said, just believe. And He talked again and again about faith, this invisible substance of things hoped for. He called it the evidence of things not seen: faith is a precursor to the fruition of things we thought were impossible.
Remember when Jesus talked about faith as small as a mustard seed? After His disciples could not cast a demon out of a little boy, He told them,
“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” *
Unless you’re really into cooking Indian food, you may not have a reference for mustard seeds. A mustard seed is about 1.5 millimeters in diameter. So, much smaller than the “s” key on your iPhone, and even smaller than this little “s.” It’s a speck. That is, a speck of faith has the power to move mountains—the power to change your circumstances dramatically, transform your family, heal your body, bring you the desires of your heart.
Here’s a personal disclaimer: for much of my life, I’ve struggled with extreme pessimism (if you don’t believe me, ask my mom.) For years, I spoke negatively over myself, and over my life. I thank God that I have, for the most part, broken that incredibly destructive habit.
But despite that pattern, I can point back to several circumstances where I had incredible, inexplicable faith for something to happen in my life. And I received what I was believing for.
I’ll save those specific examples for another post– But I can look back and identify that I exercised a fantastic belief in the impossible for months leading up to the miracle. Even now, after receiving what I was believing for, I often think, How did I believe that was going to happen?
That is, what did it look like to have faith that moved mountains?
I recently read an article in the New Yorker titled “Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them.” The article explained the idea that human beings apply the laws of physics or the laws of reality to impossible circumstances: for example, the majority of people believe that it would be easier to levitate a frog than a cow—even though levitating either animal is in theory, impossible.
We apply what we know to be true to what we don’t see yet in reality, minimizing our faith for the extraordinary.
If you are unemployed, you may have faith that you’re going to get a job that you don’t hate or love, but pays the bills. But do you have faith that you’re going to get the perfect job—the job that brings you joy and great satisfaction and utilizes your skills, talents, and gifts?
Either circumstance is currently unreal: why not believe in the better one?
Or take this example. If you’re a single woman and want to be married, you may have faith that you will meet an eligible man that you’re attracted to, and “checks all the boxes.” But do you have faith that you’re going to meet a man that you are not only wildly attracted to, but is above and beyond what you could have hoped for in his character, kindness, and vision for life?
Believing for the impossible is not measuring our faith against what we’ve seen and know to be true. Believing for the impossible is measuring our faith against our wildest dreams and most audacious hopes. It is believing in the God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” *