What is Faith?

What is Faith?

What difference does having faith make in your life? Can you articulate or explain it? What does it mean to live in faith?

Many do not know how to answer these questions. Profound misunderstandings exist in our culture regarding God and what it means to believe. At its very core, this question lies at the heart of all theology, a field that will never be exhausted or mastered.

Having faith in God does not mean that everything in life will work out just the way we plan. It does not mean that we will be spared hardship and pain, tragedy and suffering. Faith in God does not mean simply biding our time and waiting to go to heaven one day when we die. It does not mean that there is a master puppeteer in the sky, orchestrating our every move. Humans do have free will. We make decisions every day, good and bad. Painful things do happen to us all. Suffering and heartache is real. We all know that.

The writer to the Hebrews gives this definition of faith: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” According to these words, faith and hope are always intertwined, two sides of the same coin, perhaps inseparable.

St. Augustine once said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Thomas Aquinas once said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary; to one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Charles Spurgeon preached that, “Faith obliterates time, annihilates distance, and brings future things at once into its possession.” Emmanuel Teney once argued, “As our faith is strengthened, we will find that there is no longer a need to have a sense of control; things will flow as they will and to our great delight and benefit, we will flow with them.” Yet many people try to control everything.

The truth is, there is no one definitive definition of faith. Faith is a way of being, a way of living, a way of approaching the future. It involves always being open to the presence of the spirit. Faith is what gives us courage in the face of fear and hope in the face of disappointment. Faith is trusting that life will go on, even after bad things happen. Faith means learning to not be trapped or owned by things that have happened in the past. The past should not and does not define us. Guilt, shame, and loss can be overcome.

Faith is learning to see the world through a different lens. It’s not an escape from reality but a refusal to accept that this is all that there is. There is always more. Faith means believing that we can leave the world better than we found it. Faith involves not getting bogged down by the trivial matters of life, the things that really don’t matter in the big picture. Living in faith means moving beyond a world of superficiality, materialism, resentment, and control. It is embracing the mystery of creation and the simple joys of everyday existence. Living in faith means reminding ourselves that we are all on a journey and we simply don’t know or control the future. Therefore humility, gratitude, love, and presence matter every step of the way. It is all a part of our Christian journey.