Last week I returned to preaching after an unexpected week away. My wife, Dana, had a stroke in the early hours of the previous Sunday. Someone at church stopped to talk to me and said how moved she was that I still believed in the light of another struggle.
She is right, you know. Faith can be such a fragile thing. Our faith in others, in institutions are sometimes destroyed in an instant. For those of us who believe in God and who place our trust in our Divine Parent faith can be a tenuous thing.
Why do we believe – or don’t? Most people I know believe in something or someone. In God. In America. In science. In a spouse. In reason. In themselves. I have read a number of articles that discuss this phenomenon (here’s a more recent one – Science Explains Why Our Brains May Be ‘Hardwired’ for God ). It seems to be human is to believe. The churches and mosques and synagogues of today are testimony to this reality but so are the cave paintings of thousands of years ago.
The question with which I wrestle at this moment of my life is why do I believe? Why do I have faith – in God, in certain ideals and principles, in people? When I look at the world around me I see plenty of reasons to believe… and plenty not. When I think about the most recent years of my life and ministry, I have experienced the best of human beings’ faith… and the worst (at least in my limited and sheltered existence). I have seen God in holy, precious moments. I have been stunned by events and actions that have left me, to be honest, all but bereft of that same faith.
So this week I am beginning a series of reflections on faith. I don;t think there were easy answers – or faith would be easy. I don’t think some of – many of – the trite answers we who believe give are helpful. So what does it mean to believe? For me to do so???
Although I am unsure he is entirely right, here are some words from the venerable Thomas Aquinas to ponder:
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”