Faith is a really heavy concept. And yet, faith is a word that we don’t often hesitate to use. Faith is a word that we commonly use as a part of our identity. I’m sure at some point many of us have described ourselves or have been described as men and/or women of faith. But what are we saying? What is it about ourselves that we are identifying? What is faith?
According to Hebrews 11:1-2, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 go on to walk us through the “Hall of Faith.” These chapters remind us of the stories of faith that the people in the Bible were commended for. The stories of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho crashing down, of Noah and his arc, of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, and more. They’re all very different stories, but they’re each stories of faith. So again I ask. What is faith?
Our faith can’t be sustained by belief because too often faith is the key to seeing something unbelievable happen.
Faith manifests itself differently depending on our present circumstance. But does faith itself, at its core ever really change? I would argue not. But, to understand faith, I think we first have to have an understanding of truth, because truth exists as the foundation for faith.
The expression and manifestation of faith is relative depending on our own circumstance and perception. But truth, truth is not relative. Truth is definite. Truth is not at all dependent on my experience, my thoughts, my feelings, my present situation. Truth never wavers.
And truth is the foundation. Yes, I know I’m repeating myself because I think this is where we get mixed up sometimes. So often we get trapped in thinking that our faith is about what we believe. Our faith can’t be sustained by belief because too often faith is the key to seeing something unbelievable happen. It’s not about what’s believable. It’s about what’s true.
It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not; it’s true. God parted the sea. It was by faith that the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land.
It doesn’t matter what you believe; it’s true. The walls of a city came crashing down after merely being walked around for 7 days.
It doesn’t matter what you believe; it’s true. A man whose generation had never seen anything like a flood spent more than 50 years building a ship and had animals show up to come aboard. And that ship saved those animals and that old man’s family from a flood that wiped out the rest of the planet.
It doesn’t matter what you believe; it’s true. Abraham took his son and built an altar with every intention of sacrificing him to God.
I can only imagine that if I were in any one of those situations (without knowing the end of the story), I would have said:
I can’t believe God wants us to walk up to the sea behind Moses and think that we’re just going to walk across. Shouldn’t we at least be killing someone?
I can’t believe God wants us to just walk around this wall for a week. Shouldn’t we at least be killing someone?
I can’t believe God wants me to build this boat as if it’s ever actually going to rain. Why aren’t we just killing these people?
I can’t believe God wants me to kill the son he promised to me. Why is he suddenly all about killing someone?
But it’s not about what I believe. Truth is the foundation of our faith. No matter what you believe, no matter what I believe at any given moment, our faith is built on what we know is true.
I know that God is a good God. I know that God has never, will never, and cannot contradict himself. I know that God doesn’t break his promises. And I know that God will ask me to have faith even when it’s unbelievable. Those are the truths I know about God.
In every situation - Old Testament, New Testament, modern history, present day - God is faithful. And because God is faithful, I have faith and you can too.
Sometimes, we’re faced with circumstances that seem unbelievable. Sometimes, God invites us to leave our comfort zone in unbelievable ways. Sometimes, waiting for God to move and make things good requires unbelievable patience. Sometimes life is unbelievable. But, have faith!
Let faith be what defines your story, like the Israelites, like Abraham, Like Noah, like Joshuah, like so many other stories we’ve studied. God has always been and will always be faithful.