The great faith of Jesus empowered him to walk calmly & cross over troubled waters in his life especially in times when he felt a combination of grief, fear & fatigue. He felt grief & fear when he was told that his former mentor, John the Baptist, a prophet of the heavenly kingdom, was beheaded by the shameless Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1-13). He felt fatigue after a whole day of healing & feeding the souls and bodies of a crowd of thousands of men, women & children (14:14-21).
“He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (14:23). Although he was physically alone in his grief & fatigue, he perceived the presence of the Spirit of the loving Father in the sound of sheer silence as he prayed in solitude.
Similarly, while the prophet Elijah felt his failure, fear & fatigue after he fled from the wrathful & vengeful queen Jezebel, he recognized the very presence of Yhwh not in powerful events like a great storm, an earthquake & then a conflagration but in the sound of sheer silence (1 Kings 19:9-13).
The faith of Jesus, his faith in the Father’s great love for him & for all the weary daughters & sons of God, was tested in moments of grief, fear & fatigue & it was nurtured in moments of prayer. His Spirit of faith & not our own merit saves us from the destructiveness of our sinful passions & addictions.
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). The sound of sheer silence in prayer is primarily God’s gift & not anybody’s achievement, and thus we ought to be sober and never to be arrogant even toward those who are, or are perceived to be, faithless, sinful, or corrupt.
Jesus, the meek Messiah, learned from an assertive non-Jewish woman, and discovered the inadequacy of his initial understanding of his mission as “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 15:24). His faith was enriched by the great faith of the Canaanite woman who wanted the healing of her ailing daughter.
May Christ’s Spirit of faith help believers to cross over troubled waters, to guard against arrogance & to be receptive to spiritual enrichment from the “outsider” & the lowly. (See also my 03 October 2010 blog post; your comments are welcome.)