Faith. Faith is a word that we humans use a lot to describe what we expect from the future. Both the secular and the religious parts of society use faith to verify that everything will work out okay. Faith is much more complicated than what we define it to be though.
One of the situations that come to mind in using the word "faith" quite a bit is in the sports arena. Last year I felt I had "faith" that Mizzou would go to a bowl game to finish their first year in the SEC. They did not as injuries and a tough new conference left them one win short of being bowl eligible. When Mizzou was in the Big 12 and playing Kansas on a regular basis I would find myself saying that I had faith that Mizzou come out on top of Kansas two and sometimes three times a season, but it seldom worked out that way. Every year I have "faith" that both the Cubs and the Royals will make the playoffs and every year my faith falls short for those two franchises.
We use the word "faith" in our social situations on a daily basis. We have faith in our fellow man that they will treat us in the right way yet it seems that mankind doesn't seem to know of that feeling of faith we have for them. I was in a 7-11 on Friday and a woman there was upset at one of the clerks running the counter. She was talking very loud and was very angry. I was trying to make my purchase and get on home so I talked extra loud so the clerk could hear me. As I left the 7-11, the woman was in the parking lot still ranting about how she was treated inside and then she turned on me, calling me names and cussing at me for trying to talk over her while in the store. I was attacked and was seen as not so much an innocent bystander, because part of her problems when I tried to talk over her loudness in the store. Faith, as most of us take it, had crumbled once again. My fellow man had turned on me because I was trying to make a business transaction in the quickest way possible.
Many people turn away from their belief in God because they had faith in God to do what they want and to make everything work out. We put faith in God as a demand on God instead of letting God be in control and realize that God's will is what the outcome of any situation may come up. Too often we place faith in God to get what we want and unknowingly use faith as a tool for selfishness and that can tend to embitter us towards God.
I think that we have a wrong definition, a misunderstood meaning of what faith is. Most of what we describe as "faith" is in reality "hope". Hope is easier to understand and fits into situations that we give credit to faith better. I hope Mizzou makes a bowl game this year. I hope that the Royals somehow pull out something like the Mets did in 1969 and go to the playoffs during this last month of the season (it is already too late for me to hope for the Cubs as they have been eliminated from even having a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.) I hope that when I leave from work tomorrow afternoon I will be able to look back say it was a good day. I hope that everything I want to work out whether it be with physical things or spiritual things will work out the way I want them to. When it comes down to it though, odds are that none of that will happen.
Faith is more complicated and more difficult to understand or to put into practice. Faith is hope times ten. Faith is when we don't even think about things and how they will turn out. Most of us have faith that we will wake up tomorrow morning. It is something we don't think about. It is there in our knowledge base. Yes, I will wake up in the morning. Faith is getting in your car and driving to the store knowing you will get there and home safely without even thinking about it. Faith is knowing that God will be with you and that He is in control and it is His will that is in control over what will happen.
Faith goes even further though. We can have faith in something and it will be something that we won't be thinking about when things go just the opposite of what our faith had instilled in us. A little over a year ago, I was driving to go to a dinner with my cousins and I had on every Tuesday for years. I had faith that I would arrive, have good fellowship along with some french toast and eggs and sausage and go home that night to awake the next morning and go to work. I never got my french toast though. As a matter of fact I never got into the restaurant. I sat outside having a heart attack and would soon find myself in the hospital to stay the night and have surgery the next day.
Was my faith broken? Did I lose faith or the concept of faith because that Tuesday night was way out of whack from all those other Tuesday nights? No. My faith shifted a bit and made some adjustments and soon I was still going about life having faith in things that I know to be true. How do I know? Because I don't think about them. Faith takes over and once again I have faith that God is in control and it is my faith in Him that keeps me going from day to day. By the way, that last sentence isn't exactly true. I find I have a constant battle between telling the difference between hope and faith.
Hope is a constant. We have hope for something everyday. But we must also have faith and realize that we do have faith. We have to fight to have and to keep that faith. If I didn't have faith from day to day and only had hope, I would be terrified to go to bed at night. Would I wake up? If I didn't wake up, would God take care of me after I passed? Faith is what keeps us going from day to day. No matter what happens we don't have to worry about it because we have the faith that is, what I think, a gift from God.
Some of us, if not all of us, need to be on watch though. There is that other side of faith that can deceive us and make us think we have faith in things that we shouldn't. I think that is where the confusion between hope and faith comes into play. What we hope will happen is brought into our minds as being mistaken as faith. I have a real difficult problem with telling hope from faith on a day to day basis. This difficulty in being able to discern between the two cause confusion in my mind and thoughts that are not a part of reality and this puts me in real danger at times.
I try to be happy. There is no reason why I shouldn't be happy. My mind is mixed up though and between situations that confront me day to day and some sort of chemical imbalance in my brain being happy is difficult for me more and more as I find life continuing on. I have become pretty good at fooling people into thinking I am okay, but deep inside I am not.
I try to have the faith I need but I am constantly finding myself falling short on the faith part too much on the hope part. The problem is, you can count on faith but you can not count on hope. Counting on hope to live your life by is like rolling the dice every day. Seldom are you going to get the roll you think you deserve or want. It is a very selfish way to live my life. I try. That is all I can do is to keep trying every day. Trying to find that faith, day to day.