Faith = belief and trust

by Mark McDonald

Years ago, we lost our house to a fire. We lost the house and virtually all of the contents. My wife and I were eight hours away, and it took a few minutes from the time we learned about the fire to learn that our children, who were staying at home with a family member, were OK. Those were long minutes.

One of the things I remember most in the moments that followed was how hard it was to understand why it was happening. Little did I know that we never would figure that out. Fire marshals and insurance investigators from near and far examined the evidence, but they never determined the actual cause of the fire. I wanted to know why it happened, but I finally had to realize I couldn’t figure everything out. Even the experts couldn’t.

As we go back to school, it may seem as though education isn’t worth all the changes it will make in our lives. Students may want to get back to a summer schedule, parents may worry about the costs, and teachers certainly invest more of their time than they are paid for. We may even feel like we’ll never learn what we need to learn, and we need to learn how to trust God and not knowledge.

And yet, education is critical for us to learn how to keep our faith in this world. Many people think that faith is simply trusting that God is in control, and that faithful people need to learn to let go and trust God in all things.

I don’t see it that way.

In the Bible, faith is defined as “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV). The word “assurance” can be translated as reality, or something we can know and understand, yet that word is linked with what we hope for. The word “conviction” can be defined as a test or proof, yet it is linked with things not seen. Faith is working to understand all we can and trusting in the things we can’t understand.

For me, that became most clear when I couldn’t wrap my mind around the reality that my house had burned. Yet it was in that time that countless people came to stand in the gap. 

Friends, family, and even strangers reached out to help us through the unexplainable. I recall getting a package of handmade cards from a second grade Sunday School class from a church I didn’t attend. That gave me hope in something I couldn’t quite understand.

As you go “back to school” this month, I hope you will realize the place that education has in our faith. It helps us use the brain that God has given us to try to understand how we can make it in this world, how we can make a difference and change the world for the better. But it also can help us understand that we have limits, and we can help each other even when we don’t understand what to do. We can trust God, and we can trust others.

Faith is belief and trust, so thanks be to God for the chance we have to learn all we can as we start another school year in the 501!

Mark McDonald