How Does Someone Have Faith? - Look at the Evidence

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, May 14, 2014 1 comments

by Logan Ames

I grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, home to one of the greatest amusement parks in the country - Hersheypark. Our parents, who had very little interest in amusement parks themselves, would take my brothers and me there when we were very little. All I can basically remember about those trips is how terrified I was and how much I was crying as we rode up the hills at the beginning of each roller coaster preparing for some kind of drop, upside down loop, or a combination of the two. My parents would later tell me they forced us to go on the roller coasters because we would talk about how much we wanted to go to the park and ride them, they would spend the money, and we would then cry and say we were afraid to go on them. They also said they wanted to teach us to overcome our fears.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the only thing that could help me overcome that fear was faith. I’m not talking about faith in God. As a kid who was scared of heights in general and roller coasters specifically, God wasn’t on my mind. I needed to KNOW that I would be safe if I got on that thing. To this day, I’ll admit there is still a hint of anxiety when I get on a roller coaster. But the reason it’s just a hint and not a paralyzing fear is that as I grew into adolescence, I could begin to look at things logically. The only problem with that is that I had no clue how a roller coaster logically works. So, my “reasoning” had to come from something else. I remember when it suddenly came to me that I had no reason to think a roller coaster would lead to my death when I saw hundreds of other people board the ride, endure it, and walk away completely whole and with smiles on their faces. My faith in something I didn’t completely understand was in the clear and convincing evidence that people were not dying on roller coasters!

Unless you completely understand everything there is to know in the world, you live with some kind of faith at some point. But faith does not have to be blind. Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Those first four words – “by faith we understand” – are not words we typically hear together. So many churches and pastors have mistakenly taught that faith is the opposite of understanding, that it defies logic or is unreasonable. The writer, however, uses this verse as a springboard for telling the reader a collection of stories in Hebrews 11 about real people from the Old Testament who put their faith in action during trying circumstances and were able to experience a taste of God’s blessing as a result.

That initial verse is the key to understanding how the people in the stories that followed were able to have their faith. They first looked at the evidence of an ordered creation all around them and REASONED that it couldn’t have happened by accident. They then concluded God must have used what is not visible to command the formation of the earth. Once they had this understanding as their foundation, the trials they faced were basically small potatoes in comparison. For example, Abraham and Sarah were told to trust God that a son would be born to them even in their very old ages of 100 and 90, respectively. If our foundation is based on worldly principles and no knowledge of what God has already done, then we must consider this feat as unreasonable and impossible. But if the foundation is that God has already spoken an entire universe into existence, then believing he could allow a barren woman to become pregnant at the age of 90 is completely within reason. The same could be said for all the other stories of Hebrews 11, as well as any trial you are facing today.

My point is not that the evidence has to be absolute. You can come up with another way the universe was formed if you really want to, but that would be just as much a matter of faith as anything else. For those of us who have entered into relationships with God, we have other “evidence.” I can think about all of the ways God has protected me before, as well as all of the time he showed up and showed off when I was desperate and needed him most. When I face an uncertainty in my life that requires faith, I can simply look at the evidence from my past and know that God will come through in the way that he knows is best. It also works when we hear how God came through for others. I’m not saying following God is always easy. Many times, it is difficult. But whether we feel God has failed us or protected us, it’s still a matter of looking at the evidence from our past and determining our faith based on that. Even if you feel God has let you down in a big way, I ask you to look at the big picture of your life and see the other ways in which he came through for you. Ultimately, all of our faith comes from some sort of evidence.

I’ll close by sharing how Jesus encouraged his disciples to have faith based on the evidence. After his resurrection, he appears to them and they are “startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” (Luke 24:37). In the next few verses, he tells them to “look at his hands and feet,” “touch him and see because a ghost does not have flesh and bones,” and then sit with him while he “eats a fish in their presence” (vv. 39-43). Jesus knows his disciples’ faith is weak, but rather than condemn them he simply urges them to look at the evidence. At no point in the story does Jesus ask or command his disciples to believe something that is contrary to their senses. I assure you that no matter how you feel about him, Jesus extends the same offer to you. He’s not asking you to blindly believe something impossible. He’s asking you to be open to the evidence that we can see in an ordered universe, which can only lead us to conclude that “all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).


Mom Ames said...

And for this reason, we have hope!

I hear almost daily of someone who is barely hanging on to hope that his or her problems will not overwhelm them. If that is you, please consider asking Jesus to come and dwell in your heart. He will and you will be amazed at the power to face your fears with renewed hope because, "he who promised is faithful".