It says in Hebrews 11:1 that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is the “not seen” part that is troubling for so many people trying to live in faith.
We are conditioned and curated in this nation to value that which is seen, that which can be touched and that which can be felt by the physical senses, over that which is unseen. How do you have a relationship with someone you cannot see, or engage with the physical senses? That becomes the challenge of living a life of Faith in a God you cannot see with the naked eye.
Faith, therefore, is being certain we are not physical beings only but that we are spiritual beings experiencing a physical reality.
In the words of the Greeks, we are made up of Soma, Psyche and Pneuma, that is, Body, Mind and Spirit. It is the spirit in us that animates us. It is the spirit that is in us that makes us alive. It is the spirit that dwells in the house of our bodies that makes us, in the words of Genesis, “A Living Soul.”
And that spirit in us is God within.
Therefore, when we stir God within us (spirit) to reach out to God outside of us (spirit), then we have relationship, we have connection, and we have communion with the Holy. I know, that’s deep and that’s why David wrote in the Psalms “Deep calls to Deep,” or the God within calls to the God without, to create communion.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 “…And remember, I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
Faith, therefore, is being confident that God who is invisible is actually with us, because the God within us verifies God’s presence that is outside of us to give us assurance that we are not alone. Faith is living in the confidence of God’s eternal presence abiding with us in whatever context, condition or circumstance that we may find ourselves in.
Faith then is also trusting in God’s heart when we cannot trace God’s hands. In other words, when it seems like God is nowhere to be found because of a tragedy or trouble or even test we find ourselves in, Faith says, we can trust God’s heart when we cannot see what God is doing at that moment.
We inherited a Faith that discerns the invisible from our ancestors who endured the dark night of chattel slavery, and who also drew upon their ancestors from the continent of Africa, who passed down to them that God may not deliver you from a situation, but God will sustain you in that situation.
Somebody working on a job that robs you of your creativity without adequate compensation, or somebody dealing with a difficult season in life, of disease, and distress, can draw upon this kind of knowing, that despite the condition of your life right now, know this, that God is still sustaining you in that situation because you can trust God’s heart of love for you when you cannot trace God’s hand.
Faith is knowing that God and only God created not only you but the entire universe, and knowing that God does not create anything that God does not love, care for and cultivate. Awareness that God loves you so very much will sustain you to get through this season of struggle and suffering, and enable you to thrive and to testify to someone else about the presence of God.
Faith is also knowing that evidences of God’s presence happen every day and every moment in God’s creation and God’s created.
To be able to feel the wind embracing your faith is a sign that God’s presence is with you because the wind has no master but God, therefore no one can predict the wind. To be able to hold a newborn baby, so delicate but with so much destiny within it, is another sign that God’s presence is with us because birth is perhaps the greatest miracle, one we too often take for granted.
To be encouraged and inspired by someone who is enduring overwhelming hardships and hurts in their own life, but who with joy and compassion reaches out to you to show love, support and affirmation is another sign that God’s presence is with you, because people don’t have to be nice or caring in this sick and selfish society.
Actually, God’s presence reveals itself all around us when we are not obsessed with being busy and/or chasing the material only.
When Reverend Harriet “44 pistol packing” Tubman was asked how did she successfully go back into the belly of the beast of chattel slavery to rescue hundreds of Black people, all she said was, “Da Lord, be helping me.”
We live in some troubling, chaotic and frightening times right now. For those who claim faith in God through Jesus the Christ of Nazareth, we can be assured that behind the scenes of this earthly life there is one with all power who is orchestrating the symphony of life through the pauses, predicaments, and seasons.
Because you have God’s spirit within you, which communes with God’s spirit outside of you, it gives you confidence and courage to walk in your destiny with determination because you trust God’s Heart of Love for you when you cannot trace God’s hands at that moment.
The Clark sisters sang, “I’m looking for a miracle. I expect the impossible, I feel the intangible, and I see the invisible, just believe and receive it, God will perform it today, Hey!!!”
Be authentic, Beloved, and know that you are never alone, so faith your way through!
Rev. John E. Jackson
Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”