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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

A Test of Faith

I have heard it said that it easy to have faith as long as it isn’t put to the test. No doubt there is some essential truth in this observation. When our lives are moving in a positive direction and the obstacles we encounter are not so great as to cause concerns, our tendency to believe in a benign future grows accordingly. We also, and somewhat perversely believe that our good fortune is entirely attributable to our own good offices. It is only when we reach a seemingly insurmountable or protracted period of adversity that we are likely to search for some greater meaning and relief. In other words, when we are unable to address the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ourselves, we turn outward and seek the intervention of something or someone else.

Having been through such a period not that long ago I remember that as the challenges facing me mounted up, they acquired a sense of pervasive and looming menace. In a few words—the tougher things got the more it seemed that the Universe was conspiring against me—and I mean personally. Of course, nothing of the sort was going on—but when you start down such a negative path it can feel that way. One minute the world seems a fine place and life is sweet, the next all hell has broken loose and it’s only going to get worse.

I have found only two reliable remedies for this distorted viewpoint. One is to remind myself of the extraordinary blessings I have received throughout the course of my life. They don’t remove the sting of those challenges I have had to navigate but they offer hope for the future, and the knowledge that I have emerged from adversity before, with the help of friends and family, and that there was a purpose to my life. Which brings me to the point of this post, faith. Thinking about those blessings always leads me to recognize that they came from others, not from anything I did or could do on my own. Faith that I had been through difficulty before and survived the encounter, and faith that I was not alone in my darkest moments, sustained me.

I don’t welcome adversity, but I am thankful for the reminder that life is no less sweet just because its rough sometimes. In fact, in many ways its only when I’ve hit those patches that I am reminded of how fortunate I’ve been. This is not something that comes easily to me, to be sure. I want to think of myself as someone who is self-reliant, but I know better. I get by with a little help from my friends as the song says.

When we think of faith as an intangible, a belief and nothing more, we do ourselves a grave disservice. It’s an argument that seems to make perfect sense on the surface but just does not measure up in practice. Faith is not just the belief that things will change, it is a prediction based on experience. We operate on such predictions all of the time. Our knowledge of our past, how things have affected us, is in fact the guide we rely on as human beings to form opinions about how we will fare in the future. If we have experienced only negative outcomes, we fear the future, and if we have survived and ultimately prevailed, we expect to do so again. To put it simply, faith is an expectation about our future.

Now, I am not Job by a long stretch. Most of us are not so afflicted and even those who bear the burden of singular adversities have expectations --good and bad, about the future. We all have faith in the future one way or the other. I have reason to expect something positive is coming—even when what I am experiencing may not be. If I were to permit myself to think negatively, I would expect more adversity to arrive at my doorstep. What you expect is generally what you get.

Because I expect the future to be brighter. it is; and should I expect it to be worse it will seem that way as well. That my friends is the physics of faith. Faith is only tested by the failure of our expectations, and our expectations shape whether we will prevail or succumb. If you too are in one of those periods where you are facing daunting challenge, may I suggest you manage your expectations. Expect the Universe to be on your side. Expect help. Expect a future that sees your current adversity safely behind you. Have faith

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