Faith. A five letter word with massive meaning. Faith may be seen as being synonymous with religion and sure, religion is centred on having faith, but do you have to be religious to have faith?
I recently made my first post-COVID lockdown flight. As an immune-compromised person, I had been in “lockdown” right up until New Zealand transitioned into Level-1. I’m not an anxious traveller by any means, and flying is something I enjoy. On this trip, however, I found myself reflecting more about the world we are currently living in, and all the things we unconsciously take for granted each day.
This trip saw me travelling to the funeral of my great auntie, the last of my family members in her generation. Although I didn’t know my great auntie as well as other members of the family, it was apparent that she was a woman of great religious faith, a religious faith that Fei Hsia and I share. Religious faith is a substance of hope we share without tangible evidence; belief in something we cannot see, hear, taste, touch or smell.
That evening, as I traveled home to my family, I realised that it’s not really religious faith, it’s actually just faith, It then struck me just how many occasions faith had played a part in my day.
For example, when I arrived at the airport that morning the temperature was below freezing, the air was still, and it was icy. Before our plane departed, our pilot advised us we would be delayed as they needed to de-ice the plane – something I hadn’t previously experienced before. Did I see, hear, taste, touch or smell the ground crew making the aircraft safe? No. Did I have evidence they had been trained properly in de-icing procedures? No. By staying aboard the plane, did I have faith that the right people and processes were in place to get our plane safely from Dunedin to Wellington? Absolutely. What was my other option? Fear.
As I travelled, I realised that this was the first time I had been in close proximity to strangers since social distancing measures were relaxed in New Zealand. When looking at what is happening around the world (and the recent resurgence in NZ), what a leap of faith that was! Did I have evidence that the people around me weren’t carrying the virus? That the government had made the right decision and had kept the borders secure? No – but I travelled anyway. What was my other option? Fear.
The journey of life is full of faith. From the moment we are born we have faith that someone will care for us and protect us from harm. As time passes and we receive tangible evidence of this care and protection, elements of this faith turns to trust. But this isn’t where our call to have faith stops. New situations regularly arise where we are called to have faith.
For some of us, this includes faith in a being greater than ourselves.
As written in Matthew 14, Peter had faith in Jesus that he too could walk on water. At Jesus’ beckoning he did, that is, until he let fear take the place of his faith.
Faith and fear cannot co-exist. Both are the belief in the unseen. One is the belief in a good outcome, and the other in a bad outcome. The choice is yours; live with fear, or face your fear and choose to act on faith.