There is great power in belief, especially the belief, “I Can!” And there is great danger too in the belief that faith in “I Can” is a kind of a magic wand that can bring rabbits out of an empty hat. But still we need to look seriously at what Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to the mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 1
Now let us look at some of the fascinating lessons the small mustard seed size of faith offers us.
First of all, look at the contrast. The mustard seed is small. The mountain is big. Moving something huge like a mountain with something small the size of a mustard seed is improbable. Jesus was talking about you facing difficulties that look imposing like a mountain in your life. The key is not to look at the mountain but to look at what you have; even it be the size of a small mustard seed. Let that look be one of belief; one of faith; and with that stance of undoubting trust. Then mountains will move.
Secondly, look at faith itself. Faith as I said earlier is no magic wand. It cannot operate on its own. It needs an object. See, the point is, your faith can be as small as a mustard seed. That doesn’t matter. It can still move mountains if that faith, even when small and looking seemingly insignificant, is placed in God who is able to move mountains. So what Jesus meant is not us doing some magic; but what he meant us to understand is where or upon whom to place our belief on. Our faith should be in God himself.
Three, look to God who moves mountains. There will be plenty of mountains to be removed in the lives of each one of us. No doubt they will look threatening and impossible to overcome. Do you know why they are there? Do you know why God doesn’t take them out of our way? Surely there has to be a purpose! They are there to help us exercise our faith; to make us come out of struggling with the clouds of doubt to the sunshine of faith in God who is the God who makes the impossible, possible.
To conclude, let me spell out the mighty lessons of faith contained in this statement Jesus made. Jesus wanted us to know that faith, even when small like a mustard seed, can accomplish great things even when facing mountains of difficulty when that faith is in God for whom the impossible is always possible. Therefore, you too can say with St. Paul, “I can do everything through him [Jesus Christ] who gives me strength.”2
Therefore, do not look at your faith that is small like a mustard seed and feel insignificant and weak; but be made strong in faith by looking to God and expecting him to move the mountains for you. It is not the popular positive thinking mantra, I can, but instead it is, “With God, I Can!
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1Matthew 17:20 Bible NIV 1984.
2Philippians 4:13 Bible NIV 1984.