Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1
This chapter of Hebrews goes on to list the many forefathers of the current audience who acted on faith, on hope, and the promise of things unseen, namely Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and then on to Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and all the prophets. Your history, they are told, is rooted in the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Today is no different, the writer of Hebrews goes on to say, except that the thing unseen is the everlasting life you'll receive in Jesus Christ. The point of faith is that there is no trailer, no look-ahead. It is total trust that we'll receive what is exactly right for us.
Our own lives too, are riddled with acts of faith, whether we acknowledge them that way or not. Marriage, "until death us do part" is an act of faith. Creating and raising children perhaps an even bigger one. We can guide and nurture, but we have zero control, and those parents who try to take control of their children's lives suffer greatly. Each new job we take is to step into the unknown, each holiday to a new place, each change of plan, even going to the supermarket these days can be an act of faith, not really knowing what we'll be able to buy. Everything is in God's hands and the best we can do is simply accept it. That's faith. A prayer comes to mind.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.1
Faith in what is doesn't mean we don't try to resist injustice, nor fail to stand up against unfairness and oppression. As the prayer says, some things should be changed. And yet again, an act of courage to change a system is another act of faith, as we cannot know the outcome of our action, only hope it is a good one, with minimal unintended consequences.
1 Opening lines of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, 1932