Now faith is assurance in what we hope for and confidence in what we do not see.
I was listening to a great interview with Richard Rohr this week and in it he said “A loss of certitude can feel like a loss of faith.”
Oh my goodness yes.
Why do we have such a hard time with our lack of certainty in faith?
Having faith does not mean we have all the answers.
Having faith does not mean we are question free.
Having faith doesn’t mean we are without struggles or difficulties.
And honestly, nowhere in scripture does it say that this is the way things go.
Jesus even tells his disciples that one needs only faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains.
Do you know how little that is?
That picture doesn’t really indicate an abundance or something immovable and unshakeable.
So then, why do we struggle when we aren’t one hundred percent sure all the time?
Why do we assume it’s bad to lack certainty?
Faith is assurance in what we hope for, and confidence in what we do not see.
Looking at the Greek, another way to translate this sentence is: faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.
Doesn’t sound like certainty at all does it?
Faith is all our hopes mixed in with all the evidence that God is at work that we can’t see.
A perennial favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott, said that “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
Faith isn’t a perfect life getting everything I’ve asked for.
Faith is seeing the mess, as Lamott says, and then either seeing God at work redeeming it, or trusting that God is working in it, even when we can’t see it.
And darn if that isn’t a whole lot harder to do than believing with proof or certainty.
So it’s easy to say I don’t believe because I don’t see it.
I don’t believe because I’m not certain.
But that’s not what we’re asked to do.
We’re asked to believe despite certainty, with all our doubts and struggles and questions all mixed into the way we hope things are.
No wonder so many people walk away.
Sometimes people think that just because I’m a pastor that I don’t ever struggle with my faith.
That I don’t have days where God feels really far away, or out of touch and I’m not sure I quite buy it.
But I do.
We all do.
So when you feel that way, when you just aren’t sure, know that it’s completely fine,
and you are not alone.
Faith and doubt go together.
Faith is not being certain, but trusting in the midst of great uncertainty.
I’m not saying it’s an easy thing.
But faith asks us to trust,
that we are loved,
and we are not alone.