“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
We all have faith in something – whether it’s God, science, institutions, ideologies, and/or our own conceptions of the world, we have faith. Faith is often seen as something in the religious domain and it has been so traditionally. I identify with this domain as a person of faith. And being a person of faith, I often find that people believe that faith is concrete and secure and straightforward. But in my experience, it doesn’t work like that.
Faith is hard work, as my mother would say. Most people don’t wake up and suddenly have it although I suppose that is possible through divine intervention. Faith, however, is a practice and a habit like many things one can embody. Faith is also having to place your trust in the knowledge that something much bigger than you plays a role in your destiny. Faith is an admittance that neither you nor any other human being or entity is completely in control of all the things that go on around you.
Yet I also grew up with the notion that, “God helps those who help themselves.” It is for this reason that faith is not just a theoretical, “pie in the sky” feeling. When you have faith, you also have to act; sometimes you even have to act in darkness. When I say darkness I am trying to convey that you may not be quite sure where the action you’re taking will lead. But you have a belief that you’re being called to act and that you will be led in the right direction.
Faith can be disappointing, at least in the heart of difficulties and uncertainties. If you believe nothing else about faith, believe that it is the hardest thing to hold onto when you need it the most. Paradoxically, as it’s been said, faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding onto. And sometimes, you’ll even think all is lost. You’ll think that you have failed and whatever battle you were fighting has come to an end; you’ll think that you have been defeated. You’ll think that your faith has failed you.
I can’t speak for anyone else but if there’s anything I know at all, it’s that my faith has never failed me. In the scorecard of life, I may have lost more than I’ve won in all the things that I’ve attempted. But I have always felt like a victor when challenges have come to pass. Because even when I have lost something I worked hard for, and suffered though, and believed in my heart of hearts that I would get, I have found that what was prepared for me was something much greater than I could have imagined. Faith has allowed me to see things clearly.
I can’t tell you what to believe or who is right and wrong. That is not even my aim. Faith is a personal journey and in it, you are given choices about what you believe. But my faith, though personal, has made me realize that no one is meant to suffer alone and face challenges alone. Indeed, no matter what I’ve faced or what those close to me have faced; in my imperfect understanding and fragile faith, I have found that somehow, someway, God has managed to be exactly and perfectly on time. That is my story of faith thus far. The struggle is to remember this the next time I face another struggle, and to never lose faith.