We all have faith, whether in something or in someone. Even non-believers (including atheists) live exercising faith on a daily basis. Some refer to it as positive anticipation, confidence, optimism, or even calculated expectation. The dictionary defines faith as “complete trust in something or someone” and “strong belief in God…based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” The latter definition is grossly flawed not to mention theologically erroneous. Christian faith is not based on proofless convictions. That is why it cannot be correctly defined by personal reasoning or by Merriam-Webster, for that matter. True faith is an assurance based on the experiential evidence of God. A God who is made visible not only in the intricacies of nature, the universe, and the human body but also in the personal testimonies of billions of lives around the world.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” – Romans 1:19-20
According to Scriptures, there is also a degree of faith that is specifically imparted as a GIFT by the Holy Spirit. I know one person in particular who undoubtedly has such gift, she is my mom.
“Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…There are different gifts, but the same Spirit…To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom…to another faith by the same Spirit…” – 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 BSB
When it comes to my God-fearing, Bible-believing, and Gospel-loving mother, what some would consider to be optimism with recurrent positive results is actually the gift of faith in action.
Among the many extraordinary stories of faith my mom has shared with me, one that sticks to me like tree sap on a bug is the one about Ms. Fab. Mom has had it really hard for several years taking care of my ailing dad who suffers from Parkinson’s. She practically has to do everything around the house by herself and the fact that I am the only child living thousands of miles away doesn’t make things easier for any of us. Nevertheless, I find some comfort in knowing that it’s her unwavering faith that has and will continue to see mom through the toughest of times.
In addition to the physical and emotional challenges mom has had to face, she has endured the frustration of living next to two not so friendly neighbors for quite some time now. One of them, who rents the house she lives in and who unmistakably has psychological issues, has particularly given my mom much grief. This neighbor occasionally swept her yard garbage into mom’s property while swearing at her. Recently, she went as far as cutting down some of my mother’s plants late at night while everyone was sleeping. Yes, the police have been called a couple of times. Well, to make a long story short, in addition to just ignoring the situation, mom had been trying for quite some time to contact Ms. Fab (the owner of the house) to inform her of the issues, but to no avail. It seemed that Ms. Fab had changed her phone number. However, not too long ago my poor mom felt like it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. She could no longer just look the other way. She literally collapsed on her bedroom floor one night crying and pleading God for relief. Early the next morning the phone rang and, knowing in her heart that God had heard her prayer, who do you think it was? Yes, Ms. Fab! Mom asked her why she had called and Ms. Fab told her that the night before, “something” woke her up and she felt a strong urge to call her. They spoke for a few minutes and as a result, the neighbor is no longer bothering my dear old mother. Let God be praised!
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15 ESV
Was that “something” coincidence? Some may say it was, but to those of us who know that true faith is not just wishing but it is trusting in a God that answers prayers, it was simply that. It was a mustard seed-sized faith that moved a mountain. It was an anchored faith that believed in an unfailing God who hears us and grants us supernatural strength in times of weakness.
In my 40+ years as a follower of Christ, one of the things I’ve come to realize is that very few Christians truly practice biblical faith as defined in the Hebrews 11:1.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 ESV
In fact, there are many who misinterpret that verse because it describes believing in things that cannot be seen. They often think of faith as believing without evidential basis. That could not be farther away from the truth. God does not want us to have blind faith. That is why the evidence of the cross and the resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. But that is not the only reasons why our faith is not based on “things not seen.” God’s presence has been and is still being witnessed by those who have placed their trust in Him. From miraculous healings to supernatural intervention in perilous times, God has made himself visible time and time again. But even in the less prodigious situations, God has received the glory for His presence and His providence. Yet, there are still believers who have not developed faith beyond what Pastor Brad Little describes as Wishful Thinking Faith.
“When Faith Is Wishful Thinking Some people are great at considering an idea but never are convinced in any serious way that it will actually happen. There is no conception that it could happen so it dies as an idea. They can’t imagine it actually happening so nothing happens.”
“Wishful Thinking Faith Many people believe they have faith (if we can call it faith) where they would love to serve God, make an impact on others, see God do amazing things but they never take the idea seriously enough to get past wishful thoughts. They are often too selfish, too busy, too lazy, or too distracted to exercise genuine faith (Luke 9:57-62).”
Like it was with Abraham, and many others, there will be times when our faith will demand more than just hoping on an idea. It will require assurance that what God has promised will come to pass, even if not in the manner or time we expect it to. It will also require defiance to that which is logical and explainable. Abraham’s faith defied every possibility he saw, in favor of the “impossible” word he heard. True faith, then, is defiance; to trust God is to distrust every other promise-maker or circumstance-dictator.
True faith, then, is defiance
We’ve all be given a measure of faith that is enough to bring us to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thereafter, it is solely up to us to grow that faith. Unfortunately, that is where many Christians get stuck and their faith becomes nothing more than wishful thinking. And that’s because building our faith requires commitment, discipline, and continuity. Prayer, discipleship, fellowship, worship, meditating in God’s word and sharing our faith all play a part in strengthening our faith.
One thing that perhaps proves that mom has the gift of faith is that 5 minutes will not go by (literally) without her talking about God, his word, and his works. And before you say good-by she will have shared either a personal testimony, a bible story, or the Gospel message with you. You can also rest assured that no matter how tiring her day may have been, you will find her praying and reading a portion of Scripture at the corner of her bed every night before she goes to sleep. You can say she truly lives and breathes Jesus. Perhaps that is why there are so many more stories I could share with you about mom’s defiant faith.
Follow the link below to read about the four types of faith Pastor Little speaks of on his blog. Have you developed your faith past the first three he mentions? Do you desire to have genuine (defiant) faith? If so, remember that Christ did not die for you to have blind hope. His life-giving sacrifice and the power of the Spirit that raised Him from the dead (which now lives in you as a Believer) should be more than enough to help you develop such faith. Spend more time with God in prayer and meditation. Read His word regularly and apply it to your life daily. Commune more with other believers even if via teleconferencing. Tell others of how good God has been to you and don’t be afraid to let them know that you too have your struggles at times. The more you do these things the easier it will become to develop genuine defiant faith and who knows, maybe some of you will discover that God had already given you the GIFT of faith and all you had to do was exercise it.