What is faith?
It’s a nice name. It’s a more spiritual word to use than “religion” when talking about belief in God e.g. Christian faith, Muslim faith, Hindu faith. It’s a word that means belief or trust in something or someone.
Merriam-Webster Online also defines faith as: loyalty, fidelity to promises, sincerity of intentions, and a firm belief or trust in something which has no proof.
The last definition is interesting, because it relates to the definition of faith in the Bible:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
It means being confident and assured that what we hope for will actually happen, even though we don’t see it right now.
It sounds really hard. And in the natural, it is. We look at ourselves in the mirror and we say, “Whoa, I look fat”; we step on the scales and we say, “Hmm, looks like I’m really putting on weight.” We look at our circumstances, at the doctor’s report, the state of our marriage and family, the job and house we’re in, the same challenges we are facing every day, and we think, “I don’t see how things are ever going to change for the better.” We’re not naturally programmed to speak anything other than what we see.
But God – God is totally different. When darkness was all around in the beginning, instead of saying, “Whoa, that’s pretty dark”, God said, “Light, be!” And light was there. When Jesus saw the man with the withered hand, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”, and it became restored as whole as the other (Luke 6:10). When Jesus met the man paralysed for 38 years lying at the pool of Bethesda, He said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk”, and the man was healed immediately and did exactly as He said (John 5:2-9). God always spoke what He wanted to see, and He always saw what He spoke after He spoke it.
We want to be like God. We want His kind of results in our life. We try to follow His example, to do as He does, speaking what we want to see by faith. But we don’t always see the same results as He does, and we get discouraged.
We conclude that it’s a problem of not having enough faith, and we try to focus more, to fear and doubt less. Still, it’s hard to get rid of the disappointment when the results don’t come.
I once read that faith is like a muscle – you either use it or you lose it. I also read that faith is having a strong picture or vision of what you want to see happen in your mind and focusing on that, vs fear which is having mental pictures of what you don’t want to see happen. That’s all good, but it’s often harder in practice than in theory.
The thing is: We can never try to be like God in our own natural strength. The sooner we realise that the better. Jesus Himself said:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, emphasis mine)
Thankfully, He also said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Only God can be God. Jesus is God. What an amazing and awesome gift has been offered to us today, that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, He comes and lives in us through His Holy Spirit. As Christians, we don’t need to struggle for faith on our own today when we realise that Faith Himself is already living in us. We just need to let God be God in us.
When we look at the vine plant, we realise that the vine is so close and intertwined with the branches, they are simply one in itself. There’s no need for the branches to struggle to get closer to the vine or to produce fruit, because they are already one and close with the vine, and it is the life and sap from the vine that naturally produces fruit on the branches. Jesus’s life in us will produce the fruits that we want to see.
God knows how we’re like, that we tend to speak what we see. So He invites us to turn our eyes from whatever is troubling us and simply see – see the goodness and blessings that comes with the person of Jesus, and His willingness to heal and meet our needs. Because the more we see, the more we will tend to speak in faith, in alignment with His promises.
Every person who received a miracle from Jesus in the Gospel accounts simply heard about Jesus’s goodness – about how He healed everybody and anybody who had a need, without question, without condemnation, and without fuss. There was no 5-step process to follow, no 7 or 10 things to do before they received their healing, He just did it. There and then, when they asked.
They heard about how He freely forgave sinners, heaped no condemnation even on someone who was caught in the very act of committing sin, and dined and hung out with people of bad repute like prostitutes and traitors just like old pals. They heard how He revealed God as their loving Father, who wanted to care for them like little children.
What else but hearing about a loving and gracious Healer could’ve given the woman with the issue of blood courage to come and press through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’s garment and receive her healing (Mark 5:25-34)? Or the leper to approach Jesus as He came down after preaching to multitudes the sermon on the mount (Matthew 8:1-4)?
By right, according to the law which they were under, both the woman and the leper were liable to be stoned to death for even appearing in public, much less before a holy religious leader. But they didn’t see Jesus as that, they saw Jesus for who He really was – a gracious and loving Saviour, who wouldn’t hesitate to meet their needs.
When the woman was healed of her condition, Jesus made sure He found her and told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34). In fact, all the woman did was to see how good Jesus was and believe that He could heal her as He had healed others.
The leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him, and therefore he came to Jesus. He just wasn’t sure if Jesus would, because he said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And Jesus’s answer? He touched the leper to comfort him and remove his fear, and assured him, “I am willing; be cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-4).
Healing was freely given and sins freely forgiven because Jesus knew He would bear all of these on the cross for them – and for us. Today, what availed for them avails for us too. When we see the goodness and grace of Jesus, that’s faith in action to Him. When we come to Him knowing that He can heal whatever needs fixing in our life, He assures us that He will.
God has made it easy for us through sending His Son to live in us, through us, and for us. The more we hear about and see Jesus as a loving and willing Healer and Saviour, the more we will naturally believe. Let’s stop making it hard for ourselves and simply rest and enjoy what Jesus has already done and is still doing in us.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.