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Commentary: Faith is...

Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons
The interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica, located in the historic district of Old Montreal, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was built between 1823 and 1829.

Everyone has been exposed to the idea or thought of faith, but not everyone gives it a voice.

Who recognizes faith?

Historically, prophets of old, religious and world leaders, intellectuals, theologians, and existentialists -- to name a few -- have notably grappled with this notion as a lifestyle, foundation, and intellectual discourse.

Is Having Faith a Challenge?

Generally speaking, it’s a challenge to believe and have faith during times of crisis and desperation, when hoping can seem hopeless. During those times faith can be viewed as vague, too overwhelming or complicated. Having faith can be an experience. In one moment it’s too broad of a topic. Other times it can be extremely personal but yet so available that it can serve as a go-to for comfort and encouragement.

There’s an old saying, and I quote, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  

For many of us, to stand for something can be understood to having a belief or connection to an ethical stance while maintaining a moral compass. To hold on to what one believes, is true, honest, and fair. To stand, as it were, also can be understood as holding fast to an unwavering belief or thought. 

At times, faith is one’s last sustaining hope as an approach to life’s challenges that can plague us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Sharon Hunter

Faith in practice is an ongoing exercise eventually building strength and confidence like a muscle to endure the weights of life, and gaining stamina against doubt, injustice, anguish, and disbelief.

If we were to discuss faith from a biblical or religious perspective, faith is recognized as of substance, hope, and evidence. In The book of Hebrews chapter 11:1, faith is explained “Now, faith is the substance or confidence in what we hope for, and the evidence or assurance of things not seen.”  To hear those words, connected to biblical truth, it is an encouragement that God is with us, and that the belief in Jesus’s resurrection ignites our faith of those that believe.

However, to hear this particular statement of the Apostle Paul, some would say that it almost sounds mysterious or a concept so far from a reality that it doesn’t seem to be attainable or even practical enough, much less giving it a voice. In my experience, quite the contrary.  It is viewed as the substance, hope, and evidence.

So as I call it – “To Faith It” -- is the exercise of persistent, active conviction in motion to strengthen oneself against the resistance of life’s complications, and/or maintenance.

“Faithing It” is to believe again. It can open doors to new relationships and opportunities, make room for new ideas, expose one to expansive influence, and provide blank canvas for innovation and creativity with clear perspective.

With faith we have the potential to be open to healing and wholeness in our communities from brokenness and barrenness.

By faith, will serve as my vehicle through transition. I can trust that hoping is not in vain.

Through faith, a plan can be strategically shaped with evidence envisioned.

Giving up, quitting, and giving in can be options when faith or a belief system is not chosen as a coping mechanism or a source of hope.

In our human existence, we have an opportunity to begin to believe, believe again, or not to believe at all. “To Faith It” can definitely be an element of strategy to move forward with substance, hope, and eventually having evidence of what is not seen at the moment.

The idea of faith challenges us to think, meditate, have inquiry, engage in healthy and meaningful dialogue, to grapple and rationalize, to explore our own ideologies, theologies, teachings, and observations concerning the world we live in. It allows us as an evolving culture time to be transparent about our existence and purpose as a nation of people, customs, core values, and institutions while giving valid voice to our experience. To also examine what is functional or otherwise dysfunctional.

Lastly, through faith, active involvement is to engage in meaningful development with an intentional approach, serving as a hopeful voice for the marginalized while speaking as a prophetic voice to the need for change, transformation, and serving like a reservoir of resource in a dry desert. Faith equals substance, hope, and evidence.

So again, we all have been challenged to think about faith.

Dr. Sharon Hunter is an ordained minister and she is an academic adviser for the Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, and Foreign Languages & Literatures at Western Illinois University.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.