Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,Hebrews 11:1
the conviction of things not seen.
As one little devotional book I have puts it, it is no small thing to have a working definition of faith. We speak of it in many different contexts. We talk about “having faith” in something, as putting our confidence in it. We might think of it very broadly, as in “my faith is important to me.” We might speak of “practicing our faith” as we live out our lives in response to God’s love. And from time to time, we may see ourselves, our own faith wavering, moving more towards words like ‘assurance’ and ‘conviction’.
I have always liked the description of faith above in Hebrews 11, because it seems to give a bit of room for wrestling with our faith, or growing in faith, without implying unfaithfulness as we do that. Kathleen Norris, in Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, suggests that how we practice and grow in our faith is in recognizing that the continuum of faith includes “belief, doubt, and sacred ambiguity.”
Maybe the opposite of faith is not uncertainty but apathy. Part of growing in our faith is struggling to hang on to it when we are weary, following when the way is hard, and still trusting when the thing we hope for cannot yet be seen.
Revs. Bob and Helen Smith
A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, January 30, 2021, edition of Tidbits.