This weekend’s scriptures were so rich and full of quotable verses; I’m still digesting and trying to figure out what I want to write. One of my favorites was this one from St. Paul to the Hebrews: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
It is one of the most confusing verses in all of scripture. Usually when I think of “taking something on faith,” it means that I’m making a decision to trust something even when I’m unsure. The modern understanding of faith is to be sure something is true without having evidence.
Paul said faith IS the evidence of something being true.
I know a lot of people who’ve had faith that something for which they hoped would come to pass, who were disappointed in the actual outcome. How can faith be the realization of something that never happens, like a healing, or a new job, or conceiving a child?
Perhaps it’s that we don’t really understand faith. It’s not an intellectual exercise, nor is it blind belief. Faith is not about outcomes or earthly circumstances. Faith is about action. Faith is deciding to act as if God is present in my pain, God cares about me, and God can and will use my circumstances to bring love and healing into the world if I offer my brokenness and incompleteness for Him to use.
We can’t always see the ripple effect our actions and attitudes have in the world, but our faith, our “acting as if” our pain has purpose, is itself the evidence of the unseen purpose.
As for “the realization of what is hoped for,” exactly what IS it that we hope for? My experience has taught me that when I hope for a bigger house, a better job, a happier relationship, etc., those things do not satisfy even when they are realized. It’s human nature to want more, bigger, and better. Discontentment is one of the shadow sides of being human. Whether we understand it or not, there is only one thing that will satisfy the inner longing, and that is a relationship with our source, our creator. The moment I hope for that relationship above all other things is the moment that hope is realized, and the moment faith is born.
There’s a song that came to mind as I meditated on Paul’s mind blowing words: Evidence by a group called Citizen Way. It gives us another word for faith – love.
“My life was changed by the evidence of love.” This is a message we all need more than ever as political season ramps up into high gear. I do my best not to look at the bumper sticker on someone’s car as evidence of their love. I look at their actions. When I do, I find that many people with whom I don’t always see eye to eye still live a life of faith and love, and those qualities are what we all need to have hope. When we outsource our hope to a figure behind a podium, we lose sight of the true source of lasting peace in the midst of chaos. Let’s keep our eyes on the evidence.