Updated: May 2, 2020
Some people believe that faith has to do with their choices, whether they were good or not. It's easy to look at circumstances to try to determine if someone has faith or not. I think it's important to consider how we establish faith in our lives to get through the hard times. It can be as simple as asking God to help you with your unbelief and knowing you will find the hope to rise again.
What faith isn't.
Faith isn't moral. It doesn't come to me because I have made great decisions or am perfect. Faith doesn't have power to perfect me or make me holy. Only God can do that. Faith is a gift to me when I believe.
Faith isn't superior. "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)
Faith is walking in love toward a hope that isn’t measured by moments but is captured in constancy. Today's events are minimal light of eternity but they have eternal impact on where your hope rests in tomorrow. If you've never had faith in God before, it will be hard to stand firm, but it just takes one step of faith toward another step of faith to climb a mountain.
What is faith?
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
What does this mean though? How did the believers mentioned in Hebrews 11 get this "hall of fame" faith? It didn't come by a wish and a prayer, it came through perseverance and hardship. It came by sacrifice and determination. Faith is more than the mindset that things can get better. Faith is belief in action when nothing around me makes sense knowing God will work out what I can't.
How do we get the substance of our faith?
Faith is rooted and established in our knowledge and experience of things we have seen or others have seen that offers us hope. I have lost faith in people who I thought I could trust. I have found renewed faith in things I thought were hopeless, but faith is unequivocally formed in things we can't see. When I was a young teen and things were dire for us after my father left, my mother's faith in God's provision and care for us gave me faith. Her faith was grounded in her understanding of the Bible and having a personal relationship with Jesus. She didn't just listen to the Bible, she did what it said. Faith is something that needs to be planted in our hearts and nurtured in order for it to support us in our darkest days. Faith is present in uncertainty. It offers us peace and hope that exceeds understanding.
What does it mean to hope for things unseen?
My best explanation of hope for things unseen is like when I began working with a personal trainer. I had no evidence apart from faith that what she was telling me to do would work. It wasn't enough though for me to believe what my trainer said, I had to do what she said. As I began to walk out this faith in her instruction, I found that I had more faith to push myself harder and believe I could do more. I could trust her because I had a relationship with her and I knew she had my best interest at heart. She had a history of helping out others who were in worse shape than me, and got results.
It's impossible to have faith in a God you don't have a relationship with and find peace in the unseen. My faith is rooted in a personal relationship with God that began when I was six. Over the years that faith was tested by trials personally and relationally. It was stretched and redefined. One thing that never happened was that it got lost. My faith got me through the hard days and pushed me to believe in something greater than my present circumstances. Faith is a gift to me that I can share with others.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
My faith is a result of grace. It means anyone can have it. My faith is in God's goodness not my own ability to deserve it. My faith is a response to my assurance that God is good and will care for me. God doesn't provide in ways I always expect. He provides through the love and care of others. He provides me creative ways to extend meals for my family. It's not what He does that builds my faith, it's the assurance He is with me and will meet my needs. "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV)