Faith is not easy. It is easier to doubt than to believe, possibly because failure to believe often carries a penalty.
The story behind this observation is that of Jesus sending his disciples on across the lake while he went up the hillside to pray. (Told in Matt 14, Mark 6, and John 6). There was a storm brewing and Jesus undoubtedly knew that it would be severe but sent his disciples out anyway. Was he testing their faith? Just that very day he had fed 5,000. Certainly that would give them confidence in his ability to handle any storm that could rise.
The storm did commence and it was severe. Our text doesn’t tell us how the disciples reacted but given that several of them were professional fishermen you would think that they could handle whatever might come up. Jesus waited till daybreak to set out walking across the sea to where the disciples were still battling the waves in the middle of a rough sea. When they saw him, the text says, “They were terrified and shrieked for fear, ‘It’s a ghost!’” A bad storm is one thing but walking on water was something quite distinct. How quickly they had forgotten that only yesterday this same man had taken five little loaves of bread and two fish and multiplied them so that an enormous crowd could eat and be satisfied. They had been right there handing out the food.
After a comforting, “All is well” from Jesus, Peter made bold to ask if it were truly he would he ask him to approach across the water. And he did, but part way there, Peter noticed how unruly were the seas and immediately began to sink. Once again Jesus extended his help and drew Peter up out of the water.
Earlier on I noted that faith is not easy. When life depends on it we want stronger evidence. It is always possible that faith has been misplaced. Perhaps I have taken as true something that is not. But that is the nature of faith. We cannot reason ourselves into believing that which can be verified only by experience.
But note that denial is also an act of faith. Those issues that really matter lie beyond our ability to verify them by some material method, so we accept them or deny them and both responses, both belief and doubt, are acts of faith.
And where does saving faith come from? Scripture teaches that it is a gift of God, not a gift that operates mechanically but a gift that involves our acceptance. When Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” he was, whether he realized it or not, accepting as valid the faith he was being given. Apart from divine intervention he would have drowned. What makes faith “hard” is our natural tendency to reject it; it has nothing to do with the opportunity to believe — God has already taken care of that.