Faith, I realize, does not mean you will always get what you want. Rather, faith is understanding, while you may not like the immediate outcome, there may be a larger picture you are unable to see or appreciate at the moment.
Children see the world in clear, uncomplicated terms. If they believe in Santa, he will bring them a toy. If they believe and say their prayers at bedtime, God will keep them safe at night. Faith, to them, is an “action equals reaction” formula.
As adults, the world reveals itself as more layered, more difficult place to predict. The simple cause and effect formula of our actions become increasing blurred. Our faith, whether in God or ourselves, requires a deeper understanding of what is truly important to us.
This thought crossed my mind over dinner with a good friend whose wife is currently in her second round of battling cancer. As we sat there, you would never have known there was anything amiss in their world. Cheerful, laughing, and thrilled to be together, you would’ve thought they were on the receiving end of a Powerball ticket rather than having spent the day with doctors pouring over opinions and reports.
But nonetheless, they share faith – faith in God, faith each other, faith in their place in the world.
We all share difficult chapters in life – episodes inviting us to question the depth of our faith. Events such as the sudden loss of a loved one, a job, or getting a diagnosis of cancer making a unwelcome return as my friend’s wife is experiencing.
My mother died unexpectedly when I was a teenager. Going in to the hospital for a simple procedure, she never returned. My faith in everything was rocked — rocked with anger, rocked with confusion, rocked venomous questions about fairness. No wish or faith in my post-childhood world could resolve my mother’s death.
And as a result, I became darker, confused, and at times seemingly rudderless in a young adult world.
But the one thing that never abandoned me was faith’s faith in me — if that makes any sense. As much as I pushed away or lashed out, the world absorbed the anger, allowing me time to mature, heal, and to better understand the true value of the lesson before me.
Over time I began to understand the value was not what I’d lost, but rather what I’d received while she was around. And my faith in those lessons, those moments, would serve as the seeds of who I become as an adult.
I’ll admit the road I traveled was long, both in time and spirit. In some ways, it may never end. But my understanding of faith, the slow and unpredictable revealing of wisdom and meaning, is unwavering. Understanding there is something beyond the horizon we can see in the moment is a powerful lesson. Be it God or other, faith is trusting there is a wisdom behind the events we experience and leading us to better appreciate those around us.