They are very fortunate people who are born into a religious faith, and who with the passage of the years find this faith increasingly strong and sustaining. To possess a confident faith is a tremendous blessing. Only faith can answer the most profound questions of life.
Without faith, there is no reason for anything and nothing is in its proper place. Life is unintelligible and unbearable without God. Faith gives meaning to life. Faith also gives vision. A life without vision is like a night without stars.
Faith adds the buoyancy of hope to life. We need hope as much as we need food. But we can’t have hope without faith. And faith results in joy. Happy those who discover the joy of believing, the rapture of faith in God, the ecstasy of heeding the divine invitation and clasping God’s outstretched hand.
But we shouldn’t expect faith to clear everything up. We live in a world where many desperately seek to know all the answers. Just because we believe doesn’t mean we know everything. But we don’t need to know all the answers. People don’t have to understand a work of art to be inspired by it. Faith is trust, not certainty.
Rationalists approach God and religion as something that can be understood and explained; mystics approach God as something mysterious which can neither be understood nor explained but only experienced. Logic cannot tell us everything. However, faith doesn’t contradict reason; it goes beyond it, it transcends it. Faith is a gift of God, but God does not force himself on anyone.
Faith is not a thing, but a relationship with God. The expression to lose your faith, as one might lose a key or a purse, is really rather silly. Faith is not a thing which one loses; we merely cease to shape our lives by it.
All of us should make our own the prayer of the apostles: “Lord, increase our faith,” because it is not enough to keep the faith; we have to grow in it. Faith is not acquired fully grown at the start. Faith has to grow, and as it grows it changes. Faith does not remain stationary, no more than any of our relationships remain stationary.
Faith grows when exercised. Faith also grows through regular nourishment. Those beliefs that we don’t nourish become less solid. How do we nourish the faith? By prayer and contact with the believing community.
Faith is the greatest power in the world. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.” This is a striking way of saying that with faith what looks impossible becomes possible. Gandhi once said “Those with a grain of faith never lose hope, because they believe in the ultimate triumph of truth”.