Faith in a world of change

Mark McDonald

Mark McDonald, a Methodist minister, has served churches in Northwest Arkansas, Booneville, Jacksonville and Conway. His family settled in Faulkner County in the 1840s. He attended Hendrix College, where he serves as a trustee. He and his wife have six children all living in Central Arkansas.
Mark McDonald

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by Mark McDonald

Years ago, my family took a vacation to the Grand Canyon. To get there, we had to drive through the desert, and I found myself wondering why anyone would decide to live in the desert. Every time we went through a town, every time I saw a small trailer with tumbleweeds in the front yard, I shook my head in wonder knowing that there seemed to be prettier places to live. 

I kept thinking of a friend of mine from West Texas who felt claustrophobic on their first visit to the Arkansas hills. So, I thought to myself, “People who live in the desert must see a beauty in this that I can’t see.”

Then, when we arrived at the Grand Canyon, I found a scenic overlook that showed the many layers of rocks. 

The Grand Canyon was not always a canyon. Depending on the period of history, it could be flat land, rolling hills, prairies or even a desert! I knew that the Colorado River carved out the canyon, but I had never thought about what it had looked like before, and I certainly had never considered the effect climate change could have in creating something as beautiful and vast as the Grand Canyon! And some people who live in the desert might not have started out in the desert. Their family might have been there for generations.

I learned a hidden lesson that day. I learned that I don’t know everything, and there is much more to life than I know. That lesson was about living in faith. 

In the Christian Bible, in the verse of Chapter 11 in Hebrews, faith is defined. One translation (CEB) says it like this: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” Another translation (NIV) says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Both point to the elusiveness of the original Greek. In other words, faith is a combination of belief and trust. 

We believe in what we know, what we can prove. But we can’t know everything. Sometimes, when our beliefs are challenged, we have to step forward by faith. We have to believe and trust. We have a hope that there is a greater truth that we don’t understand. That’s faith: belief in the things we know and hope in the things that we cannot (yet) see. 

Learn all you can, but always hope there is more that we can know. Have faith!