For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
Of the few virtues in life I aspire towards, faith is the most challenging because it is easy to understand but extremely difficult to live by. One can be glib and claim that he lives by faith but when requested to illustrate what he means by that, he will have a hard time substantiating the claim. Faith, it appears, is better appreciated by what it is not. That is why there is a popular Bible quote in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that church folks often use: we walk by faith and not by sight. It is likened to a game we used to play when we were younger where I was blindfolded and had to listen to a buddy's detailed verbal instructions to navigate through a series of obstacles. It was a game designed to teach trust between friends. That simple game represented well the aphorism viz: if I can see, I don't need faith.
Faith is less an event but more a slow conversion from using my own sight (which is limited and often misguided) to trusting my God (who often keeps me in the dark until something I couldn’t imagine happens). The trade-off seems highly illogical and unpredictable. That, too, is the phenomenon of faith.
The Bible describes sufficiently how faith work in all aspects of my life. Whether I am about to embark on a new adventure or when I am in thick of action and there is no finish line in sight, faith is the ingredient that helps me overcome my doubt and fear. In fact, it becomes obvious how indispensable faith is to relating to the unseen Sovereign God when you read in Hebrew 11:6 a divine shout-out:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
When we enter a new chapter of life, commence a new job, or travel to a foreign land, it is human nature to have the jitters pondering about the unknown. Questions beginning with “what if” pop up in rapid fire because we leave our comfort zone. No amount of human reasoning can assuage the wild guessing and trepidation. Only the Lord's declaration in Jeremiah 29:11 can calm our disrupted spirit.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Only by obedient surrender and intentional choice to believe such a declaration will we have the faith to leave the known for the unknown, to depart from where we are in control to where He is in control.
There are also times when we are in the midst of a stage of life where the going gets tough or we have lost our way. Such are tribulations when we become discouraged and wonder how it will possibly end well. Faith is what happens when we start to claim God's promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 which assures us:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Faith means that I am convicted by the principle that the God who had saved me from six troubles will not abandon me in the seventh. Such a deep-seated belief serves as a reliable anchor when I find myself in a stormy sea. There are times in our lives when we are tossed into fiery trials - when we suffer pain, deprivation or loss - that faith is God's assurance that we have a promise to hang on to, draw strength from as well as find solace.
I spent most of my life beating myself up for not having enough faith when I walked through challenging times. I am learning that I had been mistaken when I read again a enigmatic teaching by Jesus in Matthew 17:20: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." It is not the size or measure of my faith that matters. What matters is the object of our faith. If I fully understand the biblical definition right, I shall no longer fret over how much faith I have.
I am thankful that my faith is not static. Even when I begin with doubt, my position shifts as long as my faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is how a finite creature relates to his infinite God. Because He is God, I only need faith no larger than a mustard seed. And the best thing is - as long as I have authentic biblical faith, I do not need to see what is ahead.