“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20
If only we had enough faith…
How many times have we heard it? How many times have we claimed it? How many times have we cried out to God to help us have enough faith?
And how many times has the mountain refused to budge?
You know what I’m talking about.
The marriage you begged God to save…but you still landed in divorce court.
The loved one you begged God to heal…but you still attended his funeral.
The infertility you begged God to end…yet you continue with empty hands.
The addiction you begged God to overcome…but you still seek the next hit.
The job you begged God to provide…and yet you still wait in the unemployment line.
The mountain you begged God to move…and yet it hasn’t budged.
Why? Why didn’t the mountains move? Is it because our faith isn’t strong enough? If only we had believed more, prayed more?
Or is there something more?
Ironically for me, this passage is right on target. Jesus had this conversation with His disciples right after He healed a boy with seizures, a boy the disciples couldn’t seem to heal. That’s one of the mountains I’ve been begging God to move, the seizures my daughter is suffering. And yet, here we are, not healed. And it’s not for lack of praying or believing. I have been firmly convinced…multiple times…that we had experienced the last one, that she was fully and completely healed.
And repeatedly, I’ve been severely disappointed. Distraught. Devastated.
So I find myself wondering why God hasn’t moved my mountain yet. I refuse to give up hope, to believe she will suffer forever, but I still struggle with why God hasn’t healed her.
Every situation is different, but we can find some reasons why the mountain doesn’t move as we look through scripture.
Lack of faith. Obviously, there are some mountains that don’t move because we don’t have enough faith. God is clear that faith is essential to seeing prayers answered. Maybe our lack of prayer shows a lack of faith. Maybe we ask but are tossed about like a wave of the sea, doubting God’s ability (James 1:6).
Consequences for sin. David begged and pleaded with God to heal his son, the child born of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). He mourned. He fasted. He believed.
And yet God allowed him to suffer the consequences of his sins. It was a painful reminder that we serve a holy God who does not allow sins to go unpunished.
Hardened hearts. I begged God to heal my marriage after my husband’s affair. I was completely convinced my husband would fully repent, return to God and his family. I knew with every ounce of my being God would give us a new ministry, a ministry of healing families walking through the pain of adultery.
And yet, my husband’s hardened heart prevented the mountain from being moved. He chose to continue on a path away from God, and I ended up a divorced single mom. My mountain didn’t move because of the collision of man’s free will with God’s sovereignty.
It’s not God’s will. When scripture teaches we can make mountains move, we have to make sure we aren’t treating God like a genie who has to answer our prayers. If He was, I could pray to win the lottery, and He would be obligated to allow me to win. That would be an even bigger miracle because I don’t play the lottery.
We must be careful to always compare scripture to scripture. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and answers our prayers. Even Jesus prayed the cup would be taken from Him, but chose to submit to God’s will instead of His own.
And that’s why we must make sure we are seeking God’s face, seeking to know Him closely and intimately so we can discern His will. We must pray in accordance with His will.
God has something better in mind. Remember Lazarus (John 11)? Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, but He didn’t come right away. Instead, He stayed where He was until Lazarus was dead and buried. Mary and Martha were hurt, upset, distraught.
But Jesus? He had something bigger and better in mind. He didn’t just want to heal Lazarus of sickness; He wanted to make him rise from the dead! The sickness was for God’s glory!
And sometimes we think too small. Our finite minds cannot comprehend God, His thoughts, His ways (Isaiah 55:9). Sometimes a mountain that doesn’t budge is the biggest answered prayer. Sometimes He does something far greater in our pain, through our pain.
So what do we do when the mountain won’t move? How do we move forward in disappointment and pain? How do we proceed when we are still staring at the Himalayas?
Keep praying. Remember the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18? She wore the judge out asking for justice. Eventually, he gave in. Jesus follows up the story by telling His listeners to keep asking God, day and night. You never know when God might see fit to answer.
Trust God. I’ve learned God is good, even when the mountains don’t move. I’ve learned He sees from beginning to end, and sometimes the mountain doesn’t move because God is protecting me. I’ve learned I can trust God, that even when I don’t understand His ways, He is always faithful, always good.
Seek God’s perspective. My mind is finite. I can only see the here and now. My perspective is not from eternity to eternity.
But God’s is. His ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). And if I ask Him to help me see things from His perspective, He will increase my vision. He will give me eyes to see from a new perspective.
Thank God. We must maintain an attitude of gratitude in all things. Give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20). Gratitude prevents us from becoming discontent, disgruntled. It helps us remember that God is the giver of all good gifts.
Worship God. David was the master of worshipping God in the midst of difficult circumstances. He wrote so many of the Psalms as he ran from King Saul, as he fought for his very life. And yet He continually remembered God was his refuge and strength, he was safe in the hands of the Almighty. As we wait for our mountain to move, we must continue to be awed by the Almighty, by His character, by His grace.
We don’t know what God might do with that mountain. Maybe He will move it one day, in His time and in His way. And maybe He won’t. But if He doesn’t move it, you can be assured He will do something amazing with it. Maybe He will do something even bigger than you ever imagined. Maybe He will use it to transform you, to prepare you for a future ministry. No matter what happens, He will use it to point the world back to Him.