WHAT is ``faith''? We speak of it in so many ways. There is faith in God; faith in a hereafter; faith in oneself; faith in a loved one; even faith in the weather forecaster. Faith refers to a feeling that someone or something will act as predicted, will be what is expected. Faith of the deepest kind comes from understanding and experience. We rely often on our faith in others. If your favorite weather forecaster's predictions have an 80 percent rate of accuracy, you have faith that he will be correct about no rain tomorrow, and you plan a picnic. From your current knowledge about his predictions and your experience that he has usually been right, you invite friends out for a holiday jaunt.
On a much more profound level, we might well ask ourselves whether our faith in God tends to be blind or whether it's genuinely based on understanding and experience. In Christian Science, having faith in God doesn't mean blindly trusting in an unknowable, unseeable Being. It does mean having a conviction that what Christ Jesus taught and proved is true--that God is all-powerful and infinitely loving. ``With God all things are possible,'' 1 Jesus said. Faith in God grows naturally as a result of prev ious experience--proof of His care through healing and guidance--and from an actual understanding of our creator.
As we come to know that God is indeed Love, and prove that He is controlling our lives in small ways, we begin to have faith that His infinite wisdom and perfect government can be demonstrated in the larger concerns relating to marriage, family, health, protection, and so forth.
When I started reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, I began to get a clearer idea of what God is. The book offers this Biblically based description of Deity: ``God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.'' 2 As I thought about God as infinite Truth itself and not as a super mortal making daily decisions about my life and the lives of others, I slowly unde rstood what God is. I had a mustard seed of faith in Him. But that was not enough.
I learned through various experiences --which included the healing of a broken arm, the healing of brokenheartedness, and a beautiful change in character--that God can be depended on and is a present help. My faith grew through a larger understanding of God and of man as His spiritual likeness, always in His care. This was much more than just having hope that all would work out.
Faith in its deepest, truest, most meaningful sense, is not a quality associated with ignorance or fanaticism. It is a quality that embraces a humble turning to the infinite for help beyond human power. Faith does not rule out the hard-won understanding of practical living, which provides a growing realization that all power comes from God.
So faith is not a futile belief, merely a hope of good. It can be an expectancy of good, growing naturally through understanding and experience. What a vital quality to cultivate! 1 Matthew 19:26. 2 Science and Health, p. 465.