How do you define faith? One of the ways Paul defines faith in his letter to the Romans is through the story of Abraham, hoping against hope. Hoping against hope is an act of trust, not in the evidence of difficulty and challenge, disappointment and trouble, but in the evidence of wonder and blessing. Do we count the evidence of our lives with more emphasis on the evidence of trouble or the evidence of joy?
Ah, but my life is full of trouble, you might say. Yes, I agree. I have mine, too. For a long time I could not be thankful for the wow moments, the opportunities to share and give in ways I could participate, and wonderfulness of many small yet terrific blessings. People living happily do not have an absence of difficulty or trouble; above some basic human livelihood requirements, they are keenly aware of and appreciative of what is good. They trust in the evidence of joy.
Trusting is a skill that is learned. We have choices each day about whether and how to trust, whether we will trust that life is very hard and even personally against us, or whether we will grow more trusting and appreciative of life’s goodness. Some of those choices involve our selves. Are we regular trustworthy bearers of goodness, of hope, of generosity, of mercy? Or when others see us, do they have to steady themselves to be the recipients of a storm of ick?
Hoping against hope can be a challenging to start practicing. Difficulties and challenges belong to all of us, and some of us encounter far more of them than others, thanks to social sin. All of us can suffer illness, but when we struggle with poverty or encounter bias and hatred when we seek help, hoping against hope is an act of defiance and liberation. When we are hungry, we feel weaker, but when we live not knowing and trusting when we can next eat, hoping against hope is a far harder practice than those who can trust there is something for each mealtime, but just missed one.
We can help and encourage one another in choosing to grow trust and hope against hope. We can help and encourage one another in faith, in loving and appreciating wonder and blessing and in ending social sins, in adding to the evidence of goodness for all to trust.
How are you adding to the evidence of goodness? If you are observing Lent, take five minutes each day share the evidence of goodness you've experienced or added to.