A Way Of Knowing

By: Cynthia Butler

My parents have a dog whose favorite room is the kitchen. If Princess hears someone rustling around in the pantry she makes a beeline for the snacker and becomes a tripping hazard. I remember watching her one day while chopping vegetables. Her tail was wagging ferociously and she watched me with expectant eyes. Princess was obviously excited even though she hadn’t received any morsels yet. She was just sure that a crumb would fall any second. “Do I have that kind of faith?” I wondered. “Do I come to God with my tail wagging?”

I tend to be a pretty optimistic person. Optimism and faith, however, are not synonymous. Both carry a positive outlook. Both anticipate the best outcome. But optimism is a way of thinking; faith is a way of knowing. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certainof what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). So, if we fully agree with this scripture, we would have to admit that when we are not “sure” and “certain”, we do not have faith. That’s a tall order! Have I ever fulfilled those criteria? James calls a person who doubts a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 6) I definitely have harbored this kind of wishy-washy faith at times. I can identify with a certain father spoken of in the Bible who asked Jesus to free his son from demon possession. “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he pleaded. “If you can?” Jesus said. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24).

Jesus drove out the demon that very day despite the man’s deficient faith. I have often prayed that He would look past my failings as well so that my imperfect prayers will be answered. Trusting that God can and will grant our requests means believing that He can and will break past all obstacles to accomplish the task. Sometimes the greatest obstacle we face is our own unbelief. But when we admit our shortcomings and come broken-hearted to God, He will not turn a deaf ear. A healthy faith is not confidence in our own spirituality but in God’s faithfulness. “Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Are you pursuing God with all of your heart? He will do the rest. Jesus is the “author and finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:6).