Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (CEV)
Standing on the frozen surface of the lake, I peered down into the depths of the water below the surface of the ice. My eye was searching for some sign of life–a small ripple of current, the slight swish of an underwater plant. I crouched on the ice and squinted. All was still. The lake was, indeed, frozen solid.
And yet, although I couldn’t see it, I knew that life was still going on within this small ecosystem. In the deeper waters of the lake, down in the murky depths beyond the penetration of sunlight, a current was still moving. The underground stream which feeds the lake was still flowing. The thousands of fish which call these waters home were there, hunkered down in the mud, waiting for the waters above to thaw once more. Zebra mussels, algae, microbes and bacteria were all still engaged in the process of living. Beyond the apparent stillness, work continued to be done.
Sometimes in our spiritual lives, we find ourselves in a place of frozen stillness. The reality of our life circumstances doesn’t match up with our theological beliefs. We can’t see God’s goodness, we’re unsure of God’s justice, we don’t have peace. It is in these moments, when God’s work seems frozen and still, that faith seems like a ridiculous concept.
We live in a society that thrives on the quantifiable. We like the security of data-driven information. We want certainty. Faith, however, is not quantifiable. Faith is not data-driven. You can’t input faith into a spreadsheet, create a line graph or formulate a faith forecast. Faith is not about certainty. Faith is about believing when your eyes tell you that something cannot be. Faith is looking down into the frozen expanses of water and trusting that life-giving and sustaining work is still being done, regardless of whether or not you can see it.
Jesus put a high premium on faith during his earthly ministry. He often chastised the disciples for their lack of faith, and rewarded the faith of those who came to him for healing. In fact, Matthew, Mark and Luke record Jesus commending the faith of those who believed in him fourteen times. Over and over again Jesus says to those who come to him believing when there is no definitive reason for belief: “Go, your faith has healed you. Go, your faith has saved you.”
In the book of John, the apostle records an encounter one of the disciples has with the risen Christ. Thomas is told of Christ’s resurrection, but refuses to believe until he has seen and touched Jesus for himself. Jesus responds to Thomas (and to us), “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” John 20:20 (CEB)
God’s work in our lives is sometimes like the frozen lake in the middle of winter. We can’t see it on the surface, but we know life-growing and sustaining is being done deep beneath the waters of our souls. And when that work finally reaches the surface, our faith will be stronger, deeper and fuller than before.
Blessings and Peace,