I often marvel at people of strong faith who seem to persevere no matter what distress befalls them. For some, I’m sure, perseverance is hard-won but it is such a witness to me of the possibility of living through the dark times. This morning’s readings remind me to be grateful for those people and their example. The beginning of the Letter of James says that we need to ask God for wisdom in our struggles and it will be given. He adds a condition, however. We “should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.” Clearly this steadfast faith is developed over time, not just given with our eye color or curly hair at birth. Practice makes perfect, as they say. Jesus seems a bit tired of the Pharisees in today’s gospel as they ask one more time for a sign from heaven to test him. Mark (Ch 8) says, “He sighed from the depth of his spirit” before telling them that no sign would be given them.
I often play with God, looking for signs that everything will be okay when I’m late for work; green lights calm me down. When I have too many things to do and someone cancels an appointment, I breathe a sigh and remind myself that God is taking care of me. But this isn’t what today is about. Today is a day to take a hard look at my faith, to “cast my cares upon the Lord,” as Scripture says, and to believe that God will support me. Whether or not my “cares” are taken away, whether I can see that my prayers are answered, the goal of my reflection is to trust, deep down, that God does not and will not abandon me. This is the faith that perseveres.