“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Reflection: You’ve just gotta have faith. That is the phrase so often said when you face adversity or circumstances that are beyond your control. I don’t know how it will feel like a senior year without prom or commencement. You’ve just gotta have faith. I don’t know how I will make ends meet if I don’t start to receive my unemployment check soon. You’ve just gotta have faith. I don’t know how I can handle another week of wondering how my sick loved one is without being able to see and talk to them because of COVID. You’ve just gotta have faith.
I don’t love this phrase. Not because I don’t believe that faith is important, but because I don’t like how this phrase has been slapped on like a fix-all solution to the pain and uncertainty people find themselves in. Often times, the use of this phrase as a fix-all has been linked to this verse in Hebrews. The more well-known translation reads: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It reads well on an Instagram post with a beautiful background. It does not always fix the complexity of problems that life throws at us.
What I find interesting is that verse 1 is well quoted, and the rest of the chapter of Hebrews 11 is forgotten. Even vs. 2 is forgotten. But it is vs. 2 and the rest of the chapter that I believe gives us the strength to have the kind of faith that is the assurance of all we hope for. We do not stand alone in our faith; as if our unfailing devotion to God, our personal fortitude to work against our doubts, will buy our individual assurance of all we hope for. Not what this verse is about. This verse invites the great cloud of witnesses that show us, through trial and tears and joy, what happens when you “have faith.” Through their stories, we too have the courage to have faith. We have faith because they had faith and their stories inform our stories. Our faith was never an individual race towards a chiseled relationship with the divine, but rather a communal struggle towards what we live as a faithful covenant.
As we enter into another week of uncertainty, may you be willing to join the ancients and have faith. Have faith because they had faith. Read their stories and as you do, may they direct the way you live your own. Like they say, you just gotta have faith.
Focus: Faith, hope, uncertainty, community
Prayer: God may we have the faith of our ancestors to believe in what we cannot yet see. May we join them in all of their struggle and triumph as we experience our own. Amen.