“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
An old aphorism has it that “there are no guarantees in life.” Another quotation that often accompanies the one about guarantees is that, “Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes.” How universal is this sentiment? Have you seen the refrigerator magnet with these words emblazoned upon it: “Life is uncertain—eat dessert first?” What each of these concepts holds in common is a universal human tendency to desire an ironclad agreement between life and us. We want to know what we can count on—so that we may leave the rest to chance. However, as the quotations suggest, between life and us there are few ironclad agreements made.
Truthfully, all people need a foundation from which to operate in life. Some things we seem to count on without much thought. For one, most of us upon waking do not worry much about whether or not our heart will beat throughout the day. We take this fact of our physiology for granted. Likewise, few of us have anxiety that suddenly the laws of nature, for example the reality of gravity, will somehow be other than we have always known it to be. Do you worry about whether or not the sun will come up? Do you persistently concern yourself about the ozone layer or the atmospheric pressure of the earth, or even the polar ice caps melting—soon?
Clearly, there are a million and one things that could drive us absolutely insane if we worried about each of them constantly. Mercifully, however, there are things that we simply take for granted in living life. If we could not count on some things being constant, then we would go mad. Yet, in the wisdom of creation we can count on some or even many things. We can have confidence that, generally speaking, we can rely on the sun rising in the morning—and in the east—and we can assume that our hearts will continue beating rhythmically and regularly until our cardiologist tell us otherwise. It is these kinds of assumptions we make that constructs a life bearable and worth the living. When these “taken for granted” realities are no longer in force, then we are all in trouble.
Where does faith fit into this picture? Some people settled their questions about faith in God and life long ago in Sunday school. For some, belief in God is not something to question. The reason?
Once we begin asking the deep questions about God, then our whole world view begins to unravel like a ball of twine.Indeed, the philosophical questions that life poses can so torture some people that they can literally go mad. The deeper mired in the questions these people become the nearer they move toward the edge of insecurity, anxiety, disbelief, all of which may eventually lead to insanity. Thus, is it better to just not ask? Our scripture seems to suggest that faith is far too important for people to take for granted. Although, in truth, avoiding difficult questions of meaning and value often makes life easier to swallow.