This Spiritual Sunday I want to talk about faith, a subject I’ve lightly touched on before in previous articles. A part of me doesn’t want to write this article. This is not because I think faith is unimportant; quite to the contrary, it’s so important that there are numerous articles out there dedicated. There’s so much that has been written about faith, I struggle to really think of what I can add to the discussion. I guess you could say that I have little faith in myself.
There are numerous theological and philosophical theories out there on faith. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy lists 7 different models, all with varying degrees of differences. It’s an interesting read and I suggest giving it a look when you get a chance. For the purpose of this article, however, I’m going to take a very rudimentary approach as to how our beliefs and faith (or lack thereof) in said beliefs affects people in their day-to-day lives.
For the longest time, I conflated my belief in a higher power with faith. In fact, if you look in a thesaurus, you’ll find that belief comes up as a synonym, so they have to be the same, right? Wrong.
To expand on this point, let’s get the basics down first. Webster’s Dictionary defines belief being “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.” That’s pretty cut and dry. Conversely, they define faith as being “belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” As you can see, these are two words commonly used interchangeably with each other, yet have two different definitions. Now that we got the first grade lesson out of the way, we can move on to the main course.
As I said, belief and faith are two different animals. Faith is codependent on belief, but belief is an introverted independent little bugger that can sometimes trick us into believing that we don’t need anything else. You can believe in a higher power, but do you have faith in the grand plan? Many of us struggle with this on a daily basis and end up falling into the trap of simply believing in something without having any faith in said belief.
For instance, I had a pastor that once said that he’d just as well be up on stage with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other than preach to those of us that are Christian in name only.
At the time I didn’t really appreciate his comment for what it was. To me, it was just the type of edgy thing pastors said to try and appeal to the younger generation that thinks that being a Christian was nerdy. But his message did it’s job, here I am 7 years later and I still remember him saying it like it were only yesterday.
Belief in God or whatever your higher power is not enough, nor will it ever be. Belief without faith is just believing in something, it holds no value on its own. I’ve found myself for years simply believing and only recently have I been able to identify the missing component.
With COVID-19 spreading like a wild fire, I think that all of our faith is being tested. Whether it be faith in God or science, we’re all getting put to the test. Have faith that there is a grand plan and design to all of this. Despite how intellectual we may think we are, who are we to question an omnipotent being we supposedly believe in? If your faith is strictly in science, then take a good look at history and see that humankind is capable of nearly infinite potential; we always find a way to persevere.
An Introspective Examination
I’m going to leave the big man in the sky out of this and pull the scalpel out to examine the concept of our faith more thoroughly.
Faith does not have to be deeply rooted in our religious beliefs like many believe. For many of us, we simply exist from moment to moment. We believe in our own existence, after all, “I think, therefore I am,” but do we actually have faith in our own existence? For example, I can believe that one day I’ll become a bestselling author, but once again, that is useless without the faith qualifier. Many might argue that this belief constitutes as faith in yourself and to that I say you’re wrong.
There are so many variables that need to be examined. The belief in one day becoming a bestselling author is shallow on its own. Do I have faith in myself to come up with an original idea or to have the ability to translate that idea into a well written masterpiece? How about having faith that this idea will be well received by the general audience? Do I have faith in myself not binge watch re-runs of Monk for the third straight night? Faith takes a lot a of work.
Don’t be afraid to examine your life and try to separate the shallow beliefs from faith. This can be apart of your daily lives and you can flip your negative beliefs into positives. Do you believe that you’re going to be rejected for that promotion or do you have faith in your abilities to deserve it?
Even if you don’t get the promotion at work, that doesn’t mean you have to lose the faith. It’s competitive world out there and some rejection here and there doesn’t mean you have to give up all hope. You can believe in yourself, but also have faith in your abilities.
We’re in trying times, but what else is knew? The testing of our faith is not limited to global pandemics or war, it is a daily struggle. Every minute of every hour is a new opportunity to strengthen our faith, but it’s also an opportunity to lose it. Just remember, be like Casey Ryback in Under Siege and keep the faith.