“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
I have a talent for thinking myself to death. In every situation. Whether it’s related to the second coming or having to choose to eat an ice cream, my brain is in overdrive. On one such instance I had the bad inspiration of thinking out loud (because I’ve been blessed with no filter when it comes to voicing my thoughts) and the answer I got was “you just have to believe!” Of course it was immediately followed by an eye-twitch on my part. Because, seriously? Is that what I have to do? It has never crossed my mind to believe, so thank you for that unnecessary insight! (You can see why people tend to avoid me.)
Faith. Everybody knows what it’s all about. Hoping against all hopelessness and knowing against all contrary evidence that the thing hoped for is as it was promised. Taking HaShem at His word.
Hearing some people talking about it, they make it sound as easy as breathing. And sometimes it is. For some unmovable concepts it always is.
I have never questioned whether HaShem exists or not. I concluded long ago that I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution, so the fact that HaShem is real is just that. A fact. Like air and gravity and my very own existence. And it’s not some abstract concept open for interpretation like peace and love and liberty, but an immovable fact. I don’t question gravity and I don’t question HaShem’s existence.
But sadly sometimes I do question His goodness. I am that dreadful. Sometimes I end up doubting His plans and His wisdom as crazy as that sounds. I don’t put it in that many words, but that’s what my attitude spells. And in my lucid state of mind I understand just how ludicrous I sound, but in the thick of things I want to scream out loud “What are You doing?! Don’t You know this hurts? Don’t You know this will set me back 10 steps? Can’t You see that I’m hanging by a thread and I am no light weight?! Why are You doing this?” Like I know better… My pride knows no bounds.
I’ve watched other believers for a long time. They seem to always have it right. They never doubt and they never lose joy even in their painful circumstances. And they don’t fake it. I can tell a faker from a mile away because I’m good at it so it’s easy to spot it in someone else. But no, they are just genuinely strong and faithful. My grandmother is one of those people. She disciplined herself into this awesome woman and I wish I would have inherited 10% of her genuine faith, but I’m from a different mold it seems. I don’t have a high threshold for pain and I fight until I exhaust myself if I perceive something as injustice.
I admire people that have learned how to be content in every situation. They just have some special ability to accept whatever comes as from Adonai and move on. If you put my grandmother between two high cliffs she would just need her Bible and her song books and she would sit between those cliffs and call them home. I on the other hand, if you put me between two cliffs, even if it will take me a lifetime, I’ll find something sharp and carve myself a stairway one grain of stone at a time until I can call myself free. And sadly sometimes I end up carving away at Adonai.
So I have issues, clearly. I have doubts where there should be joyful faith and I felt guilty for that all my life and my best moments when I was ‘in faith’ don’t make the doubts less true. So I’ve learned to hide it because I don’t want to be judged but in my heart of hearts I’d know the truth.
When it comes to faith we’re used to thinking in absolutes, but things don’t work like that because there will always be exceptions that will undo that absolute. If I were to ask, “Are you a good person?” the answer can’t be an absolute because nobody is absolutely bad just like nobody is absolutely good. I talk of humans of course, oh you with the keen eye ready to correct me with a well deserved “except for God”.
We all have a measure of good and evil in us and it’s up to us to make ourselves better or worse. It’s the same when it comes to faith. Faith is not an absolute or a constant, it’s more like a spectrum.
Some days it points higher than on other days, but it’s always there. Of course it’s my responsibility to work it and nurture it and help it grow, by keeping my eyes open to everything He does. But He never demanded blind faith and I don’t believe in blind faith. Faith comes through conviction and through tasting and seeing that He is good. Mind you in my case my taste buds suffer from short term memory loss and I need to remind myself of His goodness constantly, but it still works. And I think He knows that among His children I’m like a child with special needs that really tests His patience, but blessed be His Name forever, He’s always there… Even when I suspect Him of the worse intentions, that He took me out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) to kill me in the desert, or when I cry I’m hungry and then the food He supplies is not good, I want something else! Even when I cry for the cucumbers in Mitzrayim… He never leaves me, so there must be hope for anyone!
There are 13 attributes of faith in Judaism and they all start with “Ani ma amin b’emunah shelemah…” I believe with perfect faith… My emunah (faith) is never perfect. Sometimes it barely flickers, other times I’m lucky there are no mountains nearby because I would move them around, or so I think. (Did I mention the pride thing? Yeah? OK.) I guess what I try to say is that I have no label for my faith. But it’s there.
In Mark 9 there is a man that comes to Yeshua for help. Read it in context, but in verse 22b - 24 the man says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Yeshua said to him, “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Yeshua is clear that it’s never a question of whether or not He can do it, all it needs is faith. And the man understands that and says “I believe, help my unbelief!” In other words, I am low on faith, but believe with me! Supply what my faith lacks! I can’t do anything for You, not even believe with perfect faith, but help my unbelief!
I know it’s obvious sometimes that I lack faith. And I know that some people feel better by pointing out the obvious. And whether it is to encourage me or to tell me off they tell me to believe. And I try. Believe you me, I try. But on the days when I run low on faith, I can’t help my unbelief even if my life depended on it and no one can help my unbelief except for the One in Whom that faith is placed.
So I believe… as much as I can today.
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” – Romans 12:3
Bat Melech בת מלך