the element of uncertainty in faith

Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins has brought to the fore a number of considerations, the nature of faith being one of them. Rob Bell’s message to many seems to be at heart lacking the certainty that scripture says is descriptive of faith, in some translations faith seeming to have a life of its own in that in itself it holds proof, or even is proof. While I don’t agree with that assessment concerning Rob and the book itself, it does raise an important issue.

There is existentially, or in our experience a sense in which faith indeed does carry an element of uncertainty. Faith by nature requires trust in the midst of what can bring doubt. One question often asked: Is doubt a part of faith? It would seem on the surface not so. Certainly living as though God’s promises in Jesus are not true could be living out of a doubting that has nothing to do with faith, lacking indeed the commitment that faith requires.  However it indeed can be an exercise of faith to struggle through the doubts that one has in life. Akin to Jacob’s wrestling with the angel, just before he was to meet his brother Esau, who had wanted at a certain point to kill him. Jacob according to the account and scripture became a different man afterward.

God has given us enough to live, but not enough to live on our own. The nature of his revelation given to us in scripture through Jesus does not answer all our questions, nor does it eliminate all danger. God essentially tells us in his word to simply trust him in the midst of all the possible wrongs which may occur. And when those possibilities overtake us. And when questions remain unanswered (see the Book of Job).

God’s promise in Jesus is not that he’ll take us out of trouble, but through trouble. Of course we in Jesus will be spared from his judgment to come. But more characteristic is the promise:

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

And we are told that no evils in this life, including death itself, will be able to separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. And we pray not only for us, but for the world:

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

So faith requires a trust which in this world can indeed seem to be a leap in the dark. But a leap into the arms, the everlasting arms of our God. Which we receive for ourselves, and seek to live out together in Jesus for the world.