“Just have faith!” How often have you heard that phrase? Does it leave you feeling peaceful, trusting, hopeful, bewildered, frustrated, doubtful, enraged?
Faith is a commonly invoked idea. But what is it and what purpose does it serve? How do you acquire it?
The Biblical definition of faith according to the New American Bible is “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1 NAB)
Faith is a grace and free gift from God. We have the free will to accept or reject this grace. The more we exercise our faith, the more it grows. “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17: 20b NAB) The ability to exercise our faith is based in our relationship with God. This relationship grows primarily through prayer and obedience to His Word. “Pray without ceasing.” (1Thes 5:17 NAB) “He replied, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’” (Lk 11:28 NAB)
God is present in every circumstance of our lives. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jer 1:5 NAB) As we grow in knowledge of His Word and experience of His presence, we begin to see with our spiritual eyes the Truth and we grow stronger in the reality of who God is and who we are and how much He loves and cares for us. This growing understanding within causes us to grow in faith. It also opens up our understanding to God’s ways which helps us to understand pain and suffering and many other mysteries of life.
A good way to grow in our understanding and faith is through daily journaling, reflecting on the day’s events and how God was present in them. When reading these journal entries at a later date and re-reflecting on them, we begin to marvel at the intricate existence of God in our lives. This shear realization encourages our faith!
Faith is also nurtured in community and this growing faith helps us to serve our community. Our faith community is vital. Attendance at church, Bible study, prayer services, small Christian communities, apostolic ministries, etc. – all of these are opportunities for us to exercise and grow in faith. Remember that exercising our faith is an important part of growing in faith! When we are of service to others, God blesses us by increasing our gifts and healing us. “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Lk 6:38 NAB) He makes us stronger and more effective disciples. Remember, however, that to glorify God, we must serve with humility and accept our weaknesses. “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor 12:10 NAB)
There is much to learn about our infinite God. Growing in faith is a life-long journey. There will be times when our faith diminishes and times when it will be stronger. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. Continue your quest for faith. Pray for it daily. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. You will not be disappointed!” (Mt 7:7-8 NAB) When your faith wanes pray, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24b NAB)
How will you exercise your faith today??
Just have faith!! May you accept it, grow in it, live it, sow it, and reap it! This is my prayer for you.