Faith has got to be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world—dismissed as superstitious by those who reject it, underestimated by those who embrace it, a failure of intellect to some and a port of last resort to others. And yet, ancient manuscripts mark it down as one of the most important qualities a person can have. So, what quality is that, exactly?
A lot of people seem to think that faith means believing in something without proof—or even evidence—and if that’s all it is then they’re right to be suspicious. But as with many scriptural practices, when you really look at what is meant, it is far more practical than most people think.
Firstly, I do not believe that faith has anything to do with forcing yourself to believe in something that doesn’t make sense. What it really means is the ability, once you have come to believe in something, to stick to those beliefs in spite of adverse circumstances. Note that this doesn’t mean being closed off to new information, only exercising the fortitude of putting your beliefs into practice in spite of difficult or frightening situations.
I’ll give you an example of what I think it is like. I have a friend who works as a financial advisor, and he once said that a big part of his job, maybe even the biggest part, is convincing scared clients not to sell their investments when the market takes a dip. He said that just about everyone has a number—80 percent, 50 percent, 20 percent—where if their investment falls to that point, they will panic and try to sell.
What’s so crazy is that selling is the worst thing they could do! Investing works because even though the market is unpredictable in the short-term, in the long-term, if you’re investing wisely as my friend helps them to do, it can be relied upon to grow at a consistent rate. You might not be able to offer them hard, scientific proof that it must absolutely continue in this way, and you certainly couldn’t tell them exactly when it will happen, but all our economic knowledge tells us that it will eventually happen.
Most of his clients understand that intellectually, but selling isn’t an intellectual decision. They just see their investment dropping and get scared. They lose their faith in the market.
So for anyone who cannot understand why some people seem to take such pride in having faith in something unprovable, or for anyone who is struggling with their own faith, I hope that this helps to clear things up, at least a little. Faith is not the reason for belief. It is the strength of that belief when temporary circumstances make it difficult, frightening, or unpopular.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!
Dr. Alex Loyd