Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Faith is waiting

The Reformed definition of saving faith traditionally has three elements: knowledge, belief (or assent), and trust. 

However, trust is a forward-looking disposition. The past can't be an object of trust, because, for better or worse, that's over and done will. It can't harm you anymore. The future is potentially threatening in a way the past is not. So trusting God is future-oriented. By contrast, knowledge and belief are applicable to past and future alike. 

On a related note, to a great extent faith is synonymous with waiting. Not in reference to the past, obviously. You can't wait for the past. That's come and gone.

But in reference to the future, faith is synonymous with waiting. A certain kind of waiting. Expectation. Or hoping for the best. 

We wait for God's promises to come due in our lives. Ultimately, at the moment of death.

Faith can be fatiguing in the way that waiting can be fatiguing. That involves psychological time. Time flies when you're having fun, but time drags when you are waiting. 

Psychological time is impacted by deadlines, or their absence. Take a wedding date. That fosters a mounting sense of anticipation. 

By contrast, part of what makes an ordeal onerous is if there's no end in sight. If you knew when the ordeal was going to end, it might be easier to take. You could pace yourself.

But it's harder to cope when there's no indication that it will end anytime soon. When it drags on indefinitely.

Sometimes in life we know when we reached a turning-point. The worst is behind us–at least in that regard. Things should be better from hereon out–at least in that regard.

However, some turning-points in life are invisible. Things will start getting better. Or we're reaching our goal. Yet we don't know that in advance. It may be just around the next bend or over the next hill, but we can't see it. There will be a day or week when we do everything for the last time, although we may not know it. 

Faith is waiting, and waiting can be trying. It may be an effort to get through each day, then you have start all over again the next day.

That's one of the nice things about death. However bad your ordeal, it will end. You'd prefer it to end sooner, but it may end later. Nevertheless, it will come to an end. And that's what makes waiting bearable. Except for the damned!  

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