What gets us through the really rotten moments of life is the confidence that no matter how hopeless a situation seems, God will give us the strength to hang on. That confidence is the fruit of faith. It is trust in God’s promise that he will not abandon us.
Faith is more than belief in God, it is confidence in his promises. Belief and faith are not synonymous. The Epistle of James reminds us that the demons in hell believe. In addition to belief, faith must include trust in God.
Mary’s response to the incredible message of the angel Gabriel was: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) Abraham had such confidence in God that in his old age he uprooted his wife and household and began a perilous journey to a distant and unknown land because God had told him to do so. (Gen 12:1-4)
Faith is habitual. It is a way of life not a Band Aid that is put on when we hurt. If our life is not grounded in faith, we are not likely to discover it in life’s darker moments. It has been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. Foxhole religion is fear not faith. It flows from fear of eternal punishment not from trust in God.
A firm, confident Christian faith gives us a tranquility and stability during the difficult times as well as the good ones.
We learn faith in community. Pope Francis wrote: “Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed.” For “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? [Rom 10:14]” (Lumen Fidei #22)
Faith comes to us through community and it cannot be hoarded, it must be shared. The Church must be more than a community of believers; it is called to be a community of faith.