When faced with not being able to heal a man of a demon, the Apostles “came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’” His answer was a rebuke of their faith. “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” (Matthew 17.19-20)
A mustard seed is among the smallest seeds, but in time it produces a grand tree large enough for birds to live and even build nests. Of course the birds cannot live in sprouts and seedlings. Eventually, with the proper time and nourishment, the mustard seeds yield branches strong enough to support birds and thick enough to protect them from predators.
The same is true for faith. Just a bit of faith, with proper time and nourishment, can produce a life strong enough to support us in our weakness and protect us from demons. The key isn’t whether or not we possess the seed. We do; the seed was cast and given to us by God (see Matthew 13). Our responsibility is to nourish the seed so that it can grow large enough to support us.
Jesus promises that if we have faith as a mustard seed, that sort of faith that grows large enough to shelter and protect us, “nothing will be impossible.” (Matthew 17.20) The only question that remains, is how do we nurture the seed of faith so that it can grow. Jesus gave us that answer as well, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17.21)
A life of prayer and fasting, the Orthodox Christian life, along with the Holy Sacraments of the Church especially Holy Confession and Holy Communion, will provide the seed of faith with the proper nourishment for it to grow. Then, when we are faced with exceptional circumstances, such as our current health crisis, our faith will be strong enough to support and protect us. Without it, we will remain weak and vulnerable.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Seeds take time, not just nourishment, to grow. Our faith, if we give it the attention it needs, feed it the proper nutrition, pull the weeds of temptation and sin before they choke it out, in time it will grow into a grand faith….a faith that can move mountains.