I’ve been reflecting this week on some of the discussions on this blog over the last little while, along with some of the content I am teaching at church this month (a kind of “Big Questions” series), and life and faith in general. This morning, Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:7 are resounding in my head: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
There is so much that we don’t see. So much that we do not, maybe even cannot understand. How do we make sense of apparent inconsistencies in Scripture, difficult texts that we wish had never been written? How do we welcome and honour the other and what is good and true and right in their views in a pluralistic context without abandoning our convictions? How do we think about questions of evil and suffering in the face of a belief—or, at very least, a hope—that God is good? How do we make ordinary decisions in life that stretch us out beyond what can be measured and predicted? In each case, I suppose, we do the best with what evidence we have and proceed accordingly. But when it comes to the things that matter most, the things that affect us most deeply, the domain of hopes and fears and longing and desire, we never see as much as we would like.
So how do we walk and think and have conversations and act and live and love when there is so much that we don’t see? Paul’s “by faith” sure sounds like the right answer, but it also sounds too easy. It sounds like a false and unearned refuge from squarely facing what evidence we have, attempting to understand our limitations and what they might mean, and only then engaging the questions. “By faith” can sometimes seem like a head-in-the-sand, fingers-in-my-ears approach to faith and life that refuses to face things honestly and seems destined, at some point, to founder on the rocks of reality.
But on a deeper level, I think “by faith” is indeed the best answer we can ever give because it points to a trust that there is a goodness, truth, beauty, and grace that far transcends our finite abilities to think and decide and walk correctly. “By faith” expresses the hope and the conviction that the answers to the most difficult and important questions in life—whether at the cosmic level or the level of individual lives—are not dependent upon our vision, but upon the only one who sees truly and completely.