I remember, many years ago reading a poem by David Whyte entitled ‘Faith’:
I want to write about faith
About the way the moon rises
Over cold snow, night after night.
Faithful even as it fades from fullness
Slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
Sliver of light before the final darkness.
But I have no faith myself
I refuse it the smallest entry.
Let this then, my small poem
Like a new moon, slender and barely open
Be the first prayer that opens me to faith.
I remember it because it links faith with faithfulness such that it makes clear that faith is the same as trust. It also makes it clear that faith/trust is a gift. Some people seem to be more naturally gifted with it than others. But you can ask God for it, and you can nurture it and encourage it to grow in you.
When the Gospel writers talk about faith, and in particular about having faith in Jesus, this is what they mean. It’s about trusting Jesus. Trusting is often difficult, especially when the object of your faith is no longer tangible as in Whyte’s poem, but our faith journey is primarily about learning to trust.
Too often people talk about faith as if it’s a statement of belief and having faith as a matter of believing in certain doctrinal statements. This is not the Biblical position. Jesus’ Good News is that God offers us a relationship not a contractual arrangement, and a relationship requires trust if it’s going to flourish. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus require a statement of belief from someone before He will help them. It is enough that they have faith in Him, that they simply trust Him.