It's hard to define exactly what faith is.
I know some who use faith as a synonym for wishing. Having faith in God means wishing for a certain thing really badly.
I know some who use faith as a term for a general sort of spirituality, God-centered or not.
I know some who use the word faith interchangeably with belief. "I have faith in God" equals "I believe in God."
But I'm not sure how to tell you what it means to me. What I do know is that faith is really important, and so we have to figure it out. In the Bible, Hebrews 11:6 says, Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
I've tried to please God in a lot of ways that have nothing to do with faith. There are so many ways we try to perform for Him, get His attention, earn His love. None of that is really what He wants from me. God is interested in something deeper. The rest of Hebrews 11:6 says this: ...because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I see three things in that statement. Coming to Him. Believing in Him. And trusting Him.
So my understanding is that faith MUST involve not only a belief that He exists, but also a hopeful expectation of what He is willing to do in and through our lives. We won't come to Him unless we have a shred of hope that He cares. And we won't trust Him with our lives unless we have an expectation that He is willing to do something good within our lives. If we do have those things, well, then that's faith.
So maybe now, I can apply that to my perspective and tell you what faith means to me today. My faith has been tested a few times in recent months. And testing does not usually come during smooth times. Rough times bubble up questions whispered in my soul: Do you have a hopeful expectation of Me? Or are you too afraid of the dark? Are you watching for Me to walk out onto the water to meet you in the midst of the storm? Or are you holding on for dear life, afraid you've been abandoned?
Fear always spits in the face of faith. But when I've pushed through fear's clouds, I've been finding hope and the peaceful anticipation of the Lord's work. He is a God of action, of this I'm certain. It's only a matter of time before my faith becomes sight and I get a glimpse of His faithful work.
But it's easy to lose my hopeful expectation in the face of looming enemies, and uncharted territory. So much of life tries to chip away at our faith, doesn't it? We slip into thinking, "I guess this is the way things will always be." Whether it's a low point in our marriage, a challenging season in parenting, or a relationship that never seems to improve, I know I'm going to a bad place when I resign myself to hopelessness and rename it "realistic." Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews starts off with this definition: Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
We can't be assured of too much in this life. No one can promise me that something bad won't ever happen in my family. So my confidence cannot be in the circumstances that I hope for. But in my heart of hearts, what I hope for is to be loved and secure, come what may. Love casts out all fear (I John 4:18), and so that's what keeps me safe. God's love for me. His awesome, never-stopping, never-giving up love is what fuels my faith, and gives me a hopeful expectation that at the end of the day - every day - I'm always in the palm of His hand.
This is the stuff I've been working out lately, living and praying through, and choosing. It feels good, in the end, to have your faith tested, because it gives God an opportunity to prove Himself. He smiles and says, "Try me. Just lean in, and see what happens." It's terrifying at first, of course. But choosing to come to Him, believe in Him, and then trust Him for what's next brings me surprising amounts of peace and even joy. I've had the lyrics on my heart, "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word..." because it is exactly how it feels. Sweet.
Time and again, I find kindness and love and peace when I trust Him. Even when my faith is a mustard seed. He is always enough.