What Is Faith?

April 4, 2023

by Maria Fontaine

Someone who loves Jesus, yet has faced many difficulties and hardships, told me that she couldn’t help but wonder whether, if she just had greater faith, perhaps she wouldn’t have so many troubles. I explained that having more afflictions doesn’t mean that you are lacking faith. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” We all face struggles; they are an unavoidable part of this life. The verse goes on to say, “but the Lord delivers them out of them all.” It is the Lord who delivers us as we place our trust in Him and His love for us.

Faith in God isn’t something that we create within ourselves through our own effort. It is the fruit of opening our hearts to His love and placing our trust in Him. That’s why memorizing His promises can help strengthen our faith and help us find peace in the midst of difficulties. Jesus’ “commandments” are the conditions He has given us in order to claim His promises. As we take them to heart, we are reminded to look to Him, wait on Him, and follow Him and His Word with trust, gratitude, and faith.

“Keep my commandments and live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Tie them to your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your kinsman.”—Proverbs 7:2–4

The spiritual principles that Jesus teaches us are simple and attainable for all when we are trusting in Him, knowing that whatever God allows, He does in love. Faith is built on trusting Him and loving Him. I’m using the word “simple” to mean something that is uncomplicated, clear, and understandable. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to implement.

God makes what He is teaching us simple. It’s humankind that too often turns it into something tangled, complicated, and nearly impossible to attain. Whether it’s salvation, faith, perseverance, loving God, obedience, what God expects of us, or many other spiritual principles, there always seem to be simple answers which God has provided for what could be seen as very deep and complex topics. Some examples are:

Salvation: Rather than the impossibly complex and unachievable act of being good enough to deserve God’s forgiveness, Jesus gave us the simple requirement of receiving Him as our Lord and Savior. (See John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8–9.)

Pleasing God: Rather than following every detail laid out by the Mosaic Law and the prophets, and trying to never make a mistake, Jesus gave us two simple rules: to love God with our whole heart and to love others as ourselves. (See Matthew 22:37–40.)

And about faith: What is faith? Is it something we have to work up enough of to meet the need? Or is it an attempt to impress God, so that we can overcome any problem? The book of Hebrews explains what faith is and why it is essential to our relationship with God.

“Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. … And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”—Hebrews 11:1, 6

So, is there a simple path to faith? Faith is knowing that no matter what difficult situation you find yourself in, He will bring you through to something better in His perfect time.

Reminding ourselves of His truth and His promises can help us to turn to Him, but taking that step of faith is a choice that we have to make. Our faith doesn’t have to be “great” or perfect. Sometimes, we may falter like the apostle Peter did. He began to walk on the water to Jesus in the storm, but then he looked around at the waves and storm and started to sink. Looking at the impossibility of our circumstances can easily distract us, because we are human, but even then, Jesus understands the love and trust in our hearts and never fails us. He holds on to us, as He did with Peter. (See Matthew 14:22–32.)

Faith is the act of trusting in God’s love for us. Faith is placing ourselves in His hands, trusting Him no matter what situation we are faced with. It doesn’t mean that it’s always something easy to do. We never know what a day may bring. But if we are trusting Him, then we might be surprised by what that trust can turn into when the need arises.

When we are struggling to have faith, sometimes it’s because we think that we can’t hear Jesus’ voice, but perhaps the solution is as simple as moving closer to Him, by pausing in our frantic rush, and getting quiet in His presence. I like this little anecdote, which illustrates this point.

A man had lost his job. He was at the point of desperation and didn’t know which way to turn, so he went to see an elderly preacher who had once helped him.

Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problems. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me, preacher, why doesn’t God answer?”

The preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply, something so hushed that it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked.

The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair.

“Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.”

With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more.

“God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.”

This time the young man heard and he understood.

We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s voice is often the still, small voice, the gentle whisper.

Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means that I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. And then, as I listen, I will find my answer.

Better still, I find myself closer to God.—Author unknown1

And here are some inspiring quotes that give good insights on faith and trust:

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”―Max Lucado

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”—Albert Einstein

“Each of us stands as an individual before God. And, before God, each of us must have the faith to trust God’s will in our lives.”—Bernard Schnippert

“My faith didn’t remove the pain, but it got me through the pain. Trusting God didn’t diminish or vanquish the anguish, but it enabled me to endure it.”—Robert Rogers

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”—Martin Luther

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”—Corrie ten Boom

“True faith is willing to accept a ‘no’ answer as well as a ‘yes’ answer.”—Joseph Tkach

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward, because we trust, because we have faith.”―Paulo Coelho

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”―G. K. Chesterton

“When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”―Edward Teller

“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”—Billy Graham

I will close this post with a few verses that we can hold on to, as reminders of the love we have for our Savior.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.—John 3:16

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.—Ephesians 2:8–9

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”—Matthew 22:37–40

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”—Micah 6:8

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”—Psalm 46:10

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 John 5:3

“Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.’”—John 14:23

1 Public domain.