What is faith? If you believe in God, does that mean you have faith?
I know many people who are observant of the rules of the religion, who religiously pray, but who lack a fundamental faith. When “bad” things happen they are quick to ask “why did this happen,” condemn what they cannot control, or paint themselves as victims.
They are looking for overt miracles, something in which they can rest their belief that God is here.
They may believe in God, but I’d argue that this is not faith.
On the holiday of Passover, we tell the story of the Exodus, with its plagues and overt shows of God’s might to bring the Jews out of Egypt. It’s a story we tell every year in the comfort of home, gathered with family around the table.
The Passover story is a story of trust: God performed these miracles so that the Jews would trust Moses and follow him out of Egypt.
That is not faith.
Contrast Passover with the holiday of Sukkot. It is the only holiday (other than Yom Kippur) that doesn’t celebrate an obvious miracle. Instead, it brings us back to a time when the Jews were wandering in the desert, living in tents, moving from place to place without a clear vision for where they were going and what would come next.
Sukkot asks us to summon the courage to leave the comfort of home to sit in a small hut that is exposed to the elements, even as we pray for rain.
This is the epitome of faith.
Faith is belief in the absence of a sign, in the absence of proof.
Faith is the belief that everything that is happening to you is happening for you, or even through you. It’s the understanding that we don’t see the full picture because we can’t see the future, and the belief that no matter what is happening, that this, too, will serve us, even if we don’t yet know how.
Faith is the ability to look for the gift in the wound, to ask “what is the message here?” instead of “why is this happening?”
Faith is willingness to sit in your fear, to find joy in the midst of insecurity. Faith is the belief that you will be protected even when all evidence points to ways you are exposed and vulnerable.
I don’t think we can take for granted that we have faith. We must cultivate it.