Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ants in the Pants of Faith

I was once asked by someone what the opposite of faith was.  She was trying to analyze my personality through the Enneagram profile, and I didn’t like the idea that she thought she could put me in a box.  My response to her question was certainty.  She replied by telling me that my answer was wrong and that the opposite of faith was doubt.  You’re probably not surprised to hear that she wasn’t able to convince me of her view.

It turns out that uncertainty is one of the synonyms for doubt.  And for me, whatever word we use, when we talk about doubt or fear or uncertainty, what we are really talking about is those times when our faith feels stretched, challenged, not so firm.  But in my experience, having faith in God does not mean that I will never have these times.  Nor does the absence of questions make one person a better Christian than another.

Rather, it is my faith that makes navigating through times like these manageable.  My faith is what calls me to sometimes venture out into unknown waters, which leads to plenty of uncertainty.  My faith is what gives me hope when I feel overwhelmed and am not sure how to move forward, and my faith is what helps me through times when there are no clear or easy answers.

For all these reasons and more, I’ve never been one to chastise the disciple Thomas for wanting physical proof of the risen Lord.  It’s not that much of a stretch to say that the disciple Thomas has gotten a pretty bad wrap.  Somewhere along the line he ended up with the nickname “Doubting Thomas,” and this name implies that there is almost something wrong with us if we do have questions or doubts about our faith.  

But there have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve wished and asked for the same.  Yes, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we have not seen, but at the same time, I think we all need tangible reminders of God’s grace and presence in our lives.

And I believe that God gives us those tangible reminders if we are willing to keep our ears and eyes open to God’s Spirit in our midst.  I guess that’s why I tend to align myself instead with the person who once told me, “There is more faith in doubt than in all the creeds ever written.”
The way I see it, faith can actually be strengthened through times of doubt and uncertainty.  As Frederick Buechner writes, “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.  They keep it awake and moving."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips