Philosophers and theologians have debated for thousands of years about what faith is and where it comes from. There is little chance that I, the daughter of a chicken cook from Georgia, could add much to such a grand discussion that has been going on for millennia. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I want to keep things simple by focusing on the two definitions of faith that have meant the most to me—one from Scripture and one from a dear friend and ministry partner.
The author of the book of Hebrews provides what many believe to be the definition of biblical faith: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, nlt). I like that: the evidence of things we cannot see. A great illustration of this is a chair. More often than not, when you choose to sit in a chair you don’t question whether it will support you. It could also be something as mundane as trusting that your spouse will pick you up from the airport like they said they would. After all, you aren’t in the car with them. You’ve told them what time to arrive and trusted them when they said they would be there. Using the Bible’s terminology, you cannot see them, but you can still be sure they’ll be there. If we weren’t sure, we would have backup plans, wouldn’t we? We would have our spouse’s assurance and we would have a rental car reservation and we would most likely have the Uber app open and ready to order a ride home. But we don’t do that, do we? No, we trust what our spouse tells us. We have faith in them. And we step out of the airport fully expecting to see them drive up, ready to take us home.
Of course, if your spouse has a long history of breaking promises, you may have a weaker faith. If your spouse has a long track record of showing up for you in the face of any obstacle, you’ll have a stronger faith. Either way, it’s still faith that you’re demonstrating. And that personal experience with the object of your faith brings me to my second-favorite definition of faith. Jonathan Morrow, our colleague at the Impact 360 Institute gap year program, defines faith as active trust in what you have good reason to believe is true. I love this understanding of faith! It’s active trust in that faith calls you to do something, but it’s not blind faith. Rather, it’s trusting in something that has proven itself to be true.
Again, if your spouse has shown over and over that they’ll move heaven and earth to keep their word to you, you have every reason to put your active trust in them to pick you up at the airport. They’ve given you no reason to doubt, just like a chair has given you no reason to suspect it will collapse beneath you. This kind of faith is not blind, and it is not based on how you may feel at any given moment. It is reasonable. It’s based on the truth you have good reason to believe. We can have that same certainty when it comes to our faith in God. We don’t have to simply “trust and believe” with no evidence whatsoever of God’s presence. No, we can point to the Lord’s long history of intervention in our lives and in the lives of others. We can examine the miracles He’s brought about, the comfort He’s provided, and the devotion of those who have put their faith in Him. We can look at the beauty of a sunset or the intricacies of a DNA molecule and trust that there is a master painter and architect behind it. We can point to history, archaeology, science, and other sources of information. We do not have to be afraid of empirical evidence—we should use it!
I’m grateful for how the Lord has strengthened my faith along the journey of life. With each passing year, I see the faithfulness of God further cementing my faith in who He is, why I trust Him, and how I know – beyond a doubt – He holds my future. Where have you seen evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness in your own journey? I pray you allow it to strengthen your trust in the things we cannot see.
Excerpted with permission from A Legacy that Lasts by Trudy Cathy White (January 17, 2023). Copyright 2023, Forefront Publishing.
Trudy Cathy White is a native Georgian and the only daughter of Jeannette and S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc. An ambassador for the family business, Trudy has held various roles within Chick-fil-A including that of restaurant operator at just 19 years old. White and her husband, John, served as missionaries in Brazil and co-founded Lifeshape and Impact 360 Institute. A developer and encourager at heart, White served as the Director of WinShape Camps for Girls from 2003-2017. She is a speaker, author, dedicated wife, mother of four, and grandmother of sixteen. Every day she is fueled by her passion to be intentional with her influence. A Legacy that Lasts will be available nationwide on January 17, 2023.
Keep up with Trudy on Instagram @trudycathywhite!