Faith as a Personal Relationship
Faith is trusting in the One who is Unseen. It is drawing spiritual strength from an Invisible Source of Being, a Higher Power. It is seeing God not with bodily eyes but with the inner, spiritual “eyes” of faith. As Orthodox theologian Timothy Ware says,
“To believe in God is not to accept the possibility of his existence because it has been ‘proved’ to us by some theoretical argument, but it is to put our trust in One whom we know and love.”1
Faith, then, “is not logical certainty but a personal relationship,” specifically, “a personal relationship with God.”2
Faith as a Source of Spiritual Strength
However, faith is not a form of magic, as if by a person believing, all of his or her problems will vanish. Faith in God, then, is not escapism, a flight from reality. On the contrary, faith is realistic, open-eyed to all the suffering and evil in the world. Life, then, is not necessarily any easier for a person of faith than a non-religious person.
Why, then, have faith at all? The reason is that it gives meaning to life. Faith also helps a person face life everyday, despite its hardships. Therefore, faith, far from withdrawing from life, is a form of spiritual courage, taking a person through life with all its vicissitudes. For example, Yahweh, “the Lord,” tells his people,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1b-2, NIV).
Similarly, the biblical poet says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me….” (Psalm 23:4a, KJV). Therefore, faith does not take a person around problems; rather, it takes him or her through them.
1. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1979, reprinted 1986), p. 19.